Gallery: DIY Kite Photographs the Gulf Oil Spill to Map its True Size


The gulf coast oil spill situation is still dire. The second containment cap seems to only be partially working, BP has strangely decided to burn the recovered oil at sea (as we reported yesterday) and for all of the "expert estimates", we're still not sure how big the spill actually is. Jeffrey Yoo Warren has an answer to the last of those problems -- and it involves a DIY kite, a digital camera, a couple of trash bags and a tank of helium. Warren has launched a series of remote-controlled kites from his boat that fly 1,500 feet above the ground and have captured incredible photos of the worsening spill.

The news media has been snapping photos of the destruction that the oil spill is causing as it floats toward shore, but recently the government and BP have been restricting aerial photographs of the spill at sea. The New York Times reported this week that journalists have repeatedly been turned down when asked to fly over the spill in aircraft. It seems Warren has found a way around this issue with his mapping project.

Grassroots Mapping was started as a way to break down the power structure inherent in the cartography world and give regular citizens the power to make aerial maps of just about anything. The project teaches people how to make high-definition maps of the ground from above. In the case of the Gulf Coast oil spill, Warren and the Grassroots team is releasing all photos taken of the devastation into the public domain for all to see and use as they please. The maps will provide information that allows scientists to map the extent of the spill and could assist with creating a plan to clean it up — check out our ideas here. Grassroots Mapping is currently in the midst of a fund raising campaign to collect cash to put kits in the hands of more citizens to help finish their stitched together aerial map of the spill.

+ MIT Center for Future Civic Media

+ Grassroots Mapping

+ Inhabitat coverage of the Gulf oil spill

+ View the whole map

Via The New York Times Bits Blog


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  1. 'Mired in the Bayou' Re... October 8, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    […] images of oil-covered birds and wildlife in the Gulf Coast, but how many of us really grasp the full impact of the BP oil spill disaster on the individuals living on the gulf coast? Inhabitat is hoping to […]

  2. j9lazur June 10, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Kudos to Warren and his team. No disrespect meant to them in what follows… Ben Franklin would be proud. It’d be a fun backyard science project for kids. But ridiculous that bp and even our own gov’t drove them to this pine car derby-level way of getting photos.

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