In its inaugural year, Catch the King garnered the support of 722 individual volunteers who directly surveyed 59,718 GPS-reported high water marks during a king tide flood event over 6 hours on Nov. 5, 2017, across the U.S. East Coast. As a result, the effort was recognized by Guinness World Records for having the most contributions to an environmental survey. For more specifics regarding the who, what, when, where, why, and how-- details are in Dave Mayfield's News Release and outlined below:
Catch the King (Volunteers)
722 Volunteers participated in Catch the King 2017, and their efforts principally contributed to this achievement. The registered volunteer names are listed by where they mapped:
Jon Derek Loftis (Organizer - Flood Modeling)
Dr. J. Derek Loftis is one of the core team members to have launched the Catch the King tide mapping project starting with Hampton Roads in 2017. His main reason for joining the team was to help train others how to use the Sea Level Rise mobile application to monitor flood observations in Hampton Roads and compare them with the street-level flood forecast models he develops at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary. Dr. Loftis has been an avid collector and user of the Sea Level Rise Mobile App data, working to map flooding events with Skip Stiles in Norfolk since Hurricane Joaquin 2015.
The two mapped the minor storm surge influences of Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew in 2016 and Jose and Maria in 2017, and Derek used the wealth of data from the app to improve the underlying assumptions of his predictive inundation model for Norfolk. As he and Skip slowly trained other users how to collect flood data with the Sea Level Rise App, more volunteers aided the effort to expand the extent of VIMS' street-level inundation model beyond the Elizabeth and Lafayette River systems. A predictive model is only useful if there are ways to verify its accuracy. With rapid expansion of technological innovation, VIMS has embedded Lidar (airborne laser elevation survey data) and buildings extracted from Lidar directly into their physics-based flood models to more realistically characterize flooding through city streets and around buildings throughout VA's coastal zone. These storm tide model forecasts are now available throughout VA via VIMS' SCHISM Hydrodynamic Model, which drives its Tidewatch Maps 36-hr forecasts, available at: AdaptVA.org.
Realizing each of these modeling assumptions are different for VA than in other states, and not content with waiting for a major storm event to potentially identify potential inconsistencies in his flood models, Derek works each year to use data from the highest tide of the year to validate the accuracy of his model while aiding educational outreach regarding flood hazards and sea level rise in relatively safe flooding conditions. Dr. Loftis' flood forecasting and modeling research is funded by the VA Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency, a university partnership between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Old Dominion University, and the College of William & Mary's VA Coastal Policy Center.
David Mayfield (Founder & Organizer - Media Support)
Dave Mayfield grew up far from any ocean, in the mountains of northern West Virginia, but eventually made his way down to the shores of Hampton Roads in 1984 to begin a career at The Virginian-Pilot.
During his last job at the newspaper, reporting on the environment, Dave devoted an increasing percentage of his time to sea level rise. With the rising tides disrupting daily lives more and more, Dave began wondering how he and The Pilot could better contribute to the region’s understanding of this threat.
The idea for Catch the King came to Dave one bleak late winter afternoon in 2017, and before he even talked with his editor, he called Skip Stiles, the executive director of the nonprofit Wetlands Watch. Skip’s group had the tide-measuring SeaLevelRise app that Dave envisioned an entire community using. Could the app support hundreds or thousands of people simultaneously making high tide measurements? And as importantly, would all of the data collected be helpful?
Dave retired from The Pilot in March 2018, and is now volunteering as a coordinator for Catch the King, working closely with Skip, Derek, volunteer coordinator Qaren Jacklich and a crew of other volunteers, partners and sponsors led by WHRO and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District. He’s gratified that so many people embraced Catch the King and delighted that it has become a core focus of WHRO’s ambitious environmental education initiative. More than 120 schools participated in a year-round Catch the King-inspired flood mapping program launched in 2018!
Qaren Jacklich (Organizer - Volunteer Training)
Qaren Jacklich is the reason Catch the King won this award. Without the comprehensive support she has provided to the initiative's 1000+ volunteers over the past 2 years, this achievement would not have been realized. Qaren's efforts in remote support in scheduling and arranging volunteer training events, personal leadership in teaching most of the 35 training events scheduled before Catch the King in 2017, and answering volunteer emails and registration requests were not perfunctory, and truly fostered the coimmunity support a citizen science project requires to succeed and thrive. Of her efforts, Dr. Loftis notes:
"I anticipated that when Dave Mayfield first approached me about helping organize Catch the King in the Spring of 2017, that this had the potential to be big. I’m thrilled to see that in just two short years, it has significantly grown to become much larger than just me, Skip, and a handful of his friends mapping inundation from storms and tides with our phones in Virginia. With Qaren's help, it has grown to be recognized as the largest environmental survey on the planet, in terms of data contributions."
It takes a lot of patience and peerless organization skills to track and manage a team of Catch the King's size, a task that Qaren manages with aplomb. Qaren also serves as the volunteer coordinator for the large volunteer effort surrounding the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's "Clean the Bay Day".
William Skip Stiles (Organizer - App Development)
William A. (Skip) Stiles, Jr. is executive director of Wetlands Watch, a statewide nonprofit environmental group based in Norfolk, VA.
Prior to his current position, starting in 1998, Mr. Stiles was an independent consultant, providing editorial and public policy services to a number of clients on issues related to science, the environment, and public policy. A partial list of his clients includes: the White House Office of Science Policy, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Pew Center on Agricultural Biotechnology, RAND Corporation, and the National Academy of Sciences.
Before that, Mr. Stiles served 22 years in Congress in a variety of senior staff positions – as chief of staff for Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. of California, staff director of a House Agriculture subcommittee, and Legislative Director for the House Science Committee.
He served on the Virginia Climate Change Commission in 2008. He is a board member of the Virginia Conservation Network (a statewide coalition of 120+ environmental groups). Together with his oceanographer wife, Dr. Margaret Mulholland, he teaches a graduate class in public policy at Old Dominion University. He lives in Norfolk, VA, and is a graduate of the College of William and Mary.
Skip Stiles and Wetlands Watch have been working for nearly a dozen years helping Virginia communities deal with flooding and sea level rise. Speaking to civic leagues, service clubs, and community and religious organizations he has come to respect the concern and expertise found in the general public in coastal Virginia. Wanting to focus that energy on the changes needed in coastal communities, Wetlands Watch asked Norfolk-based Concursive Inc. to develop a smart phone app that would allow citizens to report and map flood events. The app, Sea Level Rise, has proven to be an effective tool in getting data and, more important, forming networks of individuals seeking positive change along the shoreline.
Last year's Catch the King event was the culmination of that work as hundreds of people took to the shoreline to map the fall high tide event. This year will be even larger and Wetlands Watch hopes to grow the use of the app and this event into a major statewide effort.
David Richards (Organizer - App Development)
David Richards is the CEO of Concursive Corp., the Norfolk, VA, based app developer of the Sea Level Rise mobile application used to aggregate and map the volunteers' flood monitoring GPS data, pictures, and notes recorded during each user's generated events for flood monitoring. David received his BA from Williams College and his MBA from the Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia.
Since 1989, David has worked with a combination of mature and growth companies. He began his career as President of AutoNet, Inc in 1989 and served in that capacity for two years. After AutoNet, David joined the Greensboro (NC) News & Record, a subsidiary of Landmark Communications in the role of Vice-President / Sales & Marketing. After serving with the News & Record David moved into the position of Vice President / Corporate Development at Landmark. In April 1998, David was named Chairman & CEO of Physicians' Online. At that time Physicians' Online was the largest authenticated community of on-line physicians in the world (+ 200,000 MD members), and it was a turnaround that David successfully sold after 18 months for $180 million prior to his departure in December 1999. David founded Concursive Corporation in January 2000 to focus on application development.
What: Catch the King is a citizen-science flood mapping initiative centered in Hampton Roads, VA, that aims to annually map the king tide's maximum inundation extents with the goal of validating and improving predictive models for more accurate future flood forecasting.
When: Catch the King was announced by Guinness World Records on Earth Day 2019 to have achieved the "Most Contributions to an Environmental Survey", for Catch the King's environmental survey on November 5, 2017.
Where: Hampton Roads, Virginia, USA
Why: The award was recognized by Guinness in response to an application letter submitted by Dr. Loftis in on behalf of Catch the King after the overwhelming volunteer participation the initiative received in its inaugural year. The application letter was submitted alongside the GPS and volunteer data records from the event and several citizen testimonials requested by the Daily Press and the Virginian-Pilot.
How: Catch the King is presently the World Record Holder with 59,718 survey contributions in the fom of high water marks. Additionally, 1,582 photographs were also collected by 722 individual volunteers who uploaded both to the free Sea Level Rise mobile application over a 6-hour king tide nuisance flooding event throughout coastal Virginia, USA, on November 5th, 2017.
Bottom Line: Catch the King is now certifiably the World's Largest Environmental Survey, in terms of total data contributions [59,718] in the shortest amount of time [6 hours].
Read the Guinness World Record application letter below: