The Potential Of A Worldwide Sensor System To Detect And Research Climate And Pollution Fluctuations
By Anisha Kundu
Every day, we see new statistics about how this year was the hottest year on record. We find that the ice caps are getting ever so smaller, while animals are dying and sea levels are rising, all because of climate change. But exactly how we are getting these statistics at such a massive scale is a mystery to many.
Before earth observation technology, scientists mostly used ground-based observations like wind vanes, barometers, and thermostats. However, this process of observation was exhausting and time-consuming, and oftentimes, conditions would change by the time they were measured, creating outdated information.
NASA launched the first weather satellite in 1960, named TIROS 1. By 2011, 514 more satellites were launched and 200 more are scheduled until 2030. With all these satellites, we are very close to establishing a worldwide sensor system.
These satellites were just the beginning. At the UC Natural Reserve System in California, cameras monitor changes in plants by snapping continuous photos while lasers monitor carbon flow. Environmental sensors, such as temperature and pressure, monitor the microclimates in different habitats experienced by organisms.
Such satellites also help with developing efficient clean energy sources such as solar energy. For example, in the report, Sensors, one study described how the resolution of sunshine duration was optimal for solar panels, creating an opportunity for renewable energy. Another study from the same report reveals how vegetation changes are affected by urbanization and energy-water dependence. Both studies emphasize the importance of considering geographical and terrain factors when using climate monitoring devices.
Remote sensing can be used for improving natural disaster management. Similar to the weather forecast most people use today, they can predict natural disasters such as hurricanes or cyclones before they happen by using environmental indicators like pressure or wind speed. As these catastrophes increase with climate change, citizens and first responders will be able to better prepare with early detection.
There have also been many innovations in monitoring pollution. One example is the SPod, a portable and solar-powered sensor system. It monitors pollution concentration and volume and helps pinpoint the source of carbon emissions if needed for repair. The potential for global private use of the SPod is possible, but more innovation will be needed for it to be used to track the Earth as a whole. Though with innovation rapidly developing, it won’t be long until this occurs.
These various sensors can help scientists monitor climate change as it happens, formulate solutions, and create ways to adapt to i. As the weather becomes more and more unpredictable for everyday citizens, the role of sensors and satellites becomes ever so important.