Social Media as a Source of Meteorological Observations

Otto Hyvärinen Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland

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Elena Saltikoff Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland

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Abstract

An increasing number of people leave their mark on the Internet by publishing personal notes (e.g., text, photos, videos) on Web-based services such as Facebook and Flickr. This creates a vast source of information that could be utilized in meteorology, for example, as a complement to traditional weather observations. Photo-sharing services offer an increasing amount of useful data, as modern mobile devices can automatically include coordinates and time stamps on photos, and users can easily tag them for content. In this study, different weather-related photos and their metadata were accessed from the photo-sharing service Flickr, and their reliability was assessed. Case studies of hail detection were then performed. The position of hail detected in the atmosphere by radar was compared with positions of Flickr photos depicting hail on the ground. As a result of this preliminary study, the authors think that further exploration of the use of Flickr photographs is warranted, and the consideration of other social media as data sources can be recommended.

Corresponding author address: Otto Hyvärinen, Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland. Email: otto.hyvarinen@fmi.fi

Abstract

An increasing number of people leave their mark on the Internet by publishing personal notes (e.g., text, photos, videos) on Web-based services such as Facebook and Flickr. This creates a vast source of information that could be utilized in meteorology, for example, as a complement to traditional weather observations. Photo-sharing services offer an increasing amount of useful data, as modern mobile devices can automatically include coordinates and time stamps on photos, and users can easily tag them for content. In this study, different weather-related photos and their metadata were accessed from the photo-sharing service Flickr, and their reliability was assessed. Case studies of hail detection were then performed. The position of hail detected in the atmosphere by radar was compared with positions of Flickr photos depicting hail on the ground. As a result of this preliminary study, the authors think that further exploration of the use of Flickr photographs is warranted, and the consideration of other social media as data sources can be recommended.

Corresponding author address: Otto Hyvärinen, Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland. Email: otto.hyvarinen@fmi.fi

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