September 10, 2014

Bring the field to students with live webcams

Posted by Laura Guertin

I am disappointed that while I am out to sea, I am unable to do a live webchat or show a live video stream from the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson (bandwidth issues).  Although I can’t bring my students to where I am on the ocean, there are several other locations that have live webcams that allow students to see what is happening in the moment – and maybe, just maybe, they will be able to catch a geologic event happening live!

[*Note – I wrote this post before I headed out to sea, when Iceland’s Barðarbunga was still restless and leaving us on the edge of our seats, waiting for an eruption. Erik Klemetti has a blog post on Barðarbunga with links to two web cams, and there is a YouTube page with all of the Barðarbunga web cams in one stream.]



Example webcams (where you can lose valuable time exploring at the beginning of the semester!) include:

  • Volcano webcams of the world – I could list all of the global webcams on volcanoes, but instead, I encourage you to check out the list Erik Klemetti (Denison University) compiled on his Wired Science – Eruptions blog



I have found very little in the literature (actually, I haven’t found anything) about using live webcams with students to explore geologic processes.  But I think sites such as the National Park Service – Air Quality Web Cameras have great potential to serve as a data source for an inquiry-based student exercise.


If you are looking for webcams outside of the geosciences, these are fun cameras/collections to explore:

  • Salmon Cam, a live view at the Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout that are spawning on The Nature Conservancy in California’s Shasta Big Springs Ranch.  You can also view bear fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park in Alaska.
  • Finally, when I shared with a colleague I was doing a blog post about webcams, he asked if I was going to include the Sea Otter Live Web Cam at Monterey Bay Aquarium – here you go, John!


If anyone has created activities where students make observations and/or track features/processes over time via webcams, please share in the comments field.  Live webcams may be an untapped source of geoscience data for our students, and perhaps we have overlooked this tech tool for educational purposes.

(*also seeking suggestions for ocean webcams (beyond those available in aquarium tanks))