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Web Cameras for Observing the Coastal Ocean

SECOORA’s 2019 Data Challenge Winners, Deanna Edwing and Kelsea Edwing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, developed an algorithm to automatically identify maximum water-levels at hourly intervals from web camera footage in the Southeast. Pictured above is footage from the Buxton, North Carolina camera.

Web cameras are a low cost coastal observing platform transforming how environmental monitoring is conducted. Web camera data has demonstrated value to address significant gaps in the nation’s ability to monitor and accurately forecast various weather, ocean, ecological and public health hazards. 

Evolving Coastal Web Camera Data Network

SECOORA is excited to be awarded NOAA funding to transition our successful pilot project, the Web Camera Applications Testbed, to a sustained network.  The new project, Webcams for Coastal Observations and Operational Support (WebCOOS), will develop a webcam coastal observing network for quantitative scientific analysis, public safety, and resource management for coastal municipalities. To accomplish this, standardized data processing and management methodology will be established to provide stakeholders such as lifeguards, emergency managers, and coastal managers with actionable information from webcam video.

News and Resources

NOAA Launches a New Life-Saving Rip Current Model

NOAA released a new operational rip current model that will improve beach safety through sophisticated rip current forecasts. NOAA plans to validate the model using shoreline footage from SECOORA’s Webcams for Coastal Observations and Operational Support (WebCOOS) network.
Read more.

SECOORA Develops New Observing Network with Low-Cost Webcams

SECOORA was awarded a $1.1 million grant to launch a sustained network of low-cost webcams throughout the Southeast, which will build off of the successful pilot project, the Web Camera Applications Testbed. 
Read more.

New Open Source Tool to Remotely Calibrate Web Camera Data

SECOORA’s 2019 Data Challenge Winner, Matthew Conlin, a PhD student at the University of Florida, has developed an easy tool to remotely calibrate web camera images for use in measuring changes in coastal and nearshore environments.
Read more.

Coastal Web Camera Data

The map below provides free access to historical data from the NOAA NOS Web Camera Applications Testbed (WebCAT). WebCAT was a short-term project (2017-2019) that installed web cameras for various purposes – counting right whales, spotting rip currents, validating wave run up models, understanding human use of natural resources and more. This unique project was a public-private partnership that leveraged the expertise and capabilities of private, nonprofit, and public sectors.

The map will be updated as new cameras are added through the WebCOOS project.

Could not play the selected video file
If the live feed doesn't start, try pressing pause then play in the lower left of the camera feed.

Usage

The tool provides an interactive web page to browse historical archive footage from a number of webcams set up at fixed locations. The historical archive video clips are broken into 10 minute segments and cover 5am through 10pm each day. The clips are in 1280×720 resolution, encoded with the H.264 codec, and are approximately 110mb each.

Viewing Historical Footage Using the WebCAT Tool

To view historical archive footage using the WebCAT tool, select a location on the map. The tool will show the live camera feed, if available, by default. Click inside the “Select archive date” box to bring up a  calendar view, showing days with available historical coverage. On selection, the tool will show the clip  from 10:00am of the selected day.

Ten minute clips from the same hour are shown in a bar below the video. Clicking the corresponding button will show that clip. To see all available clips from the selected day, press the “More Times” button below the video, and select a clip from the menu.

Downloading Historical Footage

The WebCAT tool can be used to download archive clips. While viewing a clip, the Information icon on the bar below the video will show a download button, as well as the URL of the clip in a text box that can be copied. Your browser may also show a download button on the video itself and/or allow you to interact with the clip via right clicking.

The clips may also be accessed via a command-line tool like wget or curl. They are named in a standard pattern:

http://webcat-video.axds.co/<station code>/raw/<year>/<year>_<month>/<year>_<month>_<day>/<station code>.<year>-<month>-<day>_<time>.mp4

e.g.

http://webcat-video.axds.co/twinpierscam/raw/2018/2018_06/2018_06_03/twinpierscam.2018-06-03_1000.mp4

Use the WebCAT tool to determine the station codes by inspecting the Video URL of any clip from that station using the Information icon.

Historical Footage Status/Availability

You can see overall historical footage availability for each station at webcat-video.axds.co/status:

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SECOORA Coastal Web Camera Principal Investigators

Helpful Documents and Links Related to Coastal Web Cameras