In place of Abstract
Toward a citizen-scientist collaborative study for a lake meteorological survey
Background of the Project
This report summarizes the procedural records and survey results of planning and implementing a communication network connecting ten observation points to detect the wind directions and speed around Lake Biwa. It also records the folk knowledge about the wind memorized by elderly local people, including fishermen and boatmen.
The conventional research methodology adopted by professional researchers, where a circle of colleagues share a common paradigm, is well established and widely applied for academic studies. Professional researchers, however, have not considered data from studies carried out by citizens due to the unstable and unreliable features of such data. However, citizens' involvement in any environmental study is very effective in increasing the environmental awareness of a wide range of people. The form and procedure of carrying out such studies are urgently needed to be developed, and how to accomplish this is now being discussed by many scholars.
The Society of Environment Education around the Lake Biwa region have worked collaboratively with the Lake Biwa Museum to plan the construction of a network to observe the wind around the lake, and to simultaneously display findings in the museum exhibit room and at other ten observation spots. These ten spots include yacht school, boating service, bird observation center, universities, and some private houses. The social variety of the monitoring points reflects the variety of social bodies which have an interest in wind observations. In this way, this project does not limit its activities to the construction of hardware settings, but has broadened its scope to survey folk knowledge memorized by the elderly fishermen and thereby record for posterity the traditional methods of observation and prediction of local weather.
This project began to investigate the methodology and circumstances for conducting collaborative researches together with staff of the museum, university researchers, school teachers and various local people with the common objective of obtaining environmental information on the lake and its vicinity. There were two successful precedents to accumulate the environmental on the lake and its vicinity: the surveys of the ecological distribution of fireflies in summer, and of the snowfall in winter, which were conducted through active involvement of people in the region.
To advance environmental education and activities, scientific knowledge is indispensable to act rationally and acquire the collaboration of people with different backgrounds and interests. We intend to reveal the relationship between folk knowledge and scientific findings through a project entailing wind observation on Lake Biwa and its vicinity. Although there are several official observatories for weather around Lake Biwa that provide data for official weather forecast, these do not offer their resources or data to the public. We assume that the systematic observation and the survey of folk knowledge on the wind will provide us with effective basis for environmental conservation of Lake Biwa to proceed rationally and with the collaboration of a variety of people.
Aims and results of the project
This project had the following aims:
- To construct on-time observation spots to detect the wind direction and speed in the vicinity of Lake Biwa. These spots will be connected through telephone lines, and data processed and displayed simultaneously at the Lake Biwa Museum and at each observation spot.
- To become acquainted with the present state of scientific research on local meteorology, especially local wind patterns, with the objective of understanding the typical characteristics of the wind on the lake and its vicinity.
- To record the folk knowledge on the local wind from elderly peoplesuch as fishermen and ship builders and to investigate the relevance of their experiences to scientific findings on the local wind patterns.
- To explore the possibilities of increasing people's awareness of the influence of the wind on the daily life and the environment of the lake. For instance, Lake Biwa is becoming a leisure site for the people not only in Shiga prefecture but also neighbouring prefectures, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Fukui, etc. We discuss possibilities to provide information on the wind of Lake Biwa and for people to enjoy their leisure at the lake.
- To develop appropriate tools and instructional materials to enhance the environment education in schools and make students more aware of the environment through actual experiences rather than through the acquisition of knowledge from textbooks or other already processed information.
From this project, we have produced the following outcomes:
- Ten observation spots for the instantaneous measurement of wind direction and speed have been installed, connected through telephone lines, and currently display the states of wind at the museum exhibit room, the ten observation spots and internet pages.
- Folk knowledge on the wind of Lake Biwa was recorded from elderly fishermen and transcribed in written form. These verbal recollections on their experiences on the lake are disappearing as the elderly pass away, and need to be recorded as soon as possible. The relevance of their knowledge to the scientific findings will be studied from various viewpoints.
- Lectures given by specialists of the local wind (e.g. fishermen and researchers of meteorology and folklore) enlightened us on the theoretical explanation of the wind around Lake Biwa.
- Environmental education in elementary and secondary schools is indispensable for all inhabitants to be aware of environmental issues of Lake Biwa. We discussed the possible use of the wind detection system as a part of the curriculum.
Suggestions for the future
Project members comprise people from various disciplines, such as museum staff, university researchers, meteorological forecasters, school teachers, and others. Based on the traditional academic point of view, it is difficult to make a clear framework of conducting this time-consuming research and redundant conclusions. This type of study is strongly needed to explore a new research methodology or interdisciplinary approach that has been widely discussed by philosophers of science since the eighties. From the perspectives of universal involvement of citizens and researchers on the environmental preservation of Lake Biwa,it is strongly recommended to enhance this type of study and to continue the official support.
"BowakoDAS: Exploring the Wind in Lake Country", Research Report of the Lake Biwa Museum, No.14, published by the Lake Biwa Museum on April 1999.