World Wide Web of Plankton Image Curation
The WWWPIC project, funded by the Belmont Forum, aims at building internet applications that process and aggregate images of plankton, allow scientists to name them consistently, store relevant metadata (such as time, location, etc.), and make everything easily accessible to the community. We will leverage cutting edge advances in database design and machine learning to process billions of images. The resulting applications will be hosted on public web servers to be easily accessible and foster an atmosphere of collaboration and sharing that, we think, is essential for the progress of science.
Plankton (i.e., the organisms that drift with ocean currents) largely contributes to the regulation Earth's climate, the production of the oxygen we breathe, the feeding of the fish we eat, etc. Estimating its abundance and diversity is therefore critical. Yet, most efforts to process and classify images for such ecological studies have been scattered and not interoperable. We will therefore use the network of applications built through the project to then tackle studies that have proved challenging without it, such as fast plankton monitoring to assess ecosystem health, or global estimations of the distribution of planktonic diversity and its contribution to carbon storage or ecosystem productivity.
The project runs from mid 2019 to mid 2023 and the schedule of the first three years is below.