Climate change demands comprehensive action from as many tech sub-segments as possible. Let’s explore how satellite-based IoT fits into the equation.
Climate change has been labeled as the primary challenge of the current era. Its consequences are already visible and will escalate unless the world takes impactful steps towards achieving the net-zero targets
The good news is that players across numerous sectors are making the right changes to their strategies and processes. Automotive manufacturers, for example, have invested significantly in electric vehicle research. Mercedes and Volkswagen have even committed to abandoning the sale of fossil-fueled cars
within the next ten years.
However, while electric vehicles have gained tremendous airplay for their potential in addressing climate change, it is important to recognize space technology's lesser-known yet fascinating role in combating climate change.
Space-based technologies have long played a pivotal role in various domains, notably as early warning systems for extreme weather events. However, their significance has grown exponentially in the fight against climate change. The valuable information derived from these technologies has proven essential for advancing the understanding of climate change and accurately evaluating the effectiveness of pro-climate strategies.
As global sustainability efforts continue to gain momentum, space technology has emerged as a crucial and innovative tool in combating climate change. Let’s delve into four examples demonstrating the vital role that satellite-based technologies play in driving climate action.
1. Monitoring Carbon emissions
With the urgent need to combat climate change, limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C
is crucial to effectively address this issue. The most effective approach to achieve this is by continuously monitoring greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and devising proper strategies for minimizing emissions.
Satellite technologies offer invaluable assistance by providing a vantage point from space to observe and analyze Earth's atmosphere. For example, laser-equipped satellite-based systems use LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging)
techniques to emit laser pulses toward the Earth’s surface. The reflected light is then captured by sensors on the satellite, allowing for precise measurements of CO2 levels.
With satellite-based LIDAR systems, scientists can collect data on CO2 concentrations across vast areas, including remote and inaccessible locations, better understand global CO2 distribution, and devise effective targeted measures to counter carbon emissions.
2. Assessing Renewable Energy Potential
An effective response to the climate change crisis hinges on the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlights that renewable energy like wind and solar power are readily available today
and often more cost-effective than coal and other fossil fuels. The urgent task is swiftly and extensively deploying these renewable energy solutions to combat climate change.
Advanced satellite technologies offer valuable support in assessing and utilizing the potential of renewable energy sources. They provide critical data and insights for identifying suitable locations for renewable energy projects, optimizing their performance, and aiding decision-making processes.
For instance, companies looking to set up a wind power plant can rely on satellite-based systems for a clearer picture of wind direction and strength and optimize their systems for maximum output. Similarly, satellite-based sensors that monitor radiation can help reveal the most optimal location for large-scale solar projects.
3. Monitoring Changes in Polar Ice Caps and Glaciers
Although the polar regions are the least populated locations on the planet, they play a tremendous role in shaping the world’s climate. The massive ice sheets in the region help regulate the planet’s temperature by reflecting the sun’s radiation back into space. They also store a substantial amount of carbon and other greenhouse gasses and influence global ocean currents.
As climate change drives rising temperatures, the consequences of melting ice extend beyond the polar regions. Some of these implications include:
- Sea-Level Rise: As global temperatures rise due to climate change, the melting of polar ice caps and glaciers accelerates, increasing global sea levels. The influx of melted ice into the oceans contributes to coastal inundation, erosion, and the risk of flooding for coastal communities, ecosystems, and infrastructure.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The loss of polar ice caps and glaciers can release stored carbon and other greenhouse gasses. Thawing permafrost in Arctic regions, for example, releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas that further contributes to climate change.
- Rising global temperature: The gradual erosion of one of Earth’s primary shields against solar radiation further exacerbates global warming.
The feedback loop between melting ice and accelerated climate change creates a complex system that requires monitoring and understanding. Satellite-based IoT systems are crucial in monitoring these changes and providing essential data on the state of polar ice caps and glaciers.
Satellites equipped with radar and optical sensors can capture detailed images and measurements of ice extent, thickness, and movement. This data is invaluable for scientists and researchers studying the impacts of climate change on polar regions and understanding the broader implications for global climate patterns.
4. Monitoring deforestation and land-use changes
Forests cover 30% of the earth’s land
. However, due to deforestation, this percentage is rapidly decreasing. Approximately ten million hectares
of forest are lost yearly, exacerbating the challenges faced in addressing climate change and contributing to the global warming crisis.
Trees are vital in mitigating climate change by acting as natural carbon sinks
. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gas concentrations. However, deforestation disrupts this crucial process. It also releases stored carbon into the atmosphere through logging and burning, contributing to global warming.
Monitoring deforestation and land-use changes is crucial to address the alarming rate of forest loss and its environmental impact. Advanced satellite-based IoT technologies play a pivotal role in this monitoring by providing crucial data and insights on a global scale.
Satellites equipped with high-resolution optical and radar sensors provide valuable data and imagery to detect and track deforestation activities. These technologies can identify changes in forest cover, including clear-cutting, selective logging, and land conversion for agriculture or urbanization.
By analyzing satellite images over time, scientists and conservationists can assess the extent and pace of deforestation, identify hotspots, and develop effective forest conservation and restoration strategies.
Satellite-based IoT has a critical role in climate action
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges today, and addressing it requires innovative solutions across all key sectors. Satellite-based IoT technology has emerged as a powerful tool in the fight against climate change.
By providing accurate environmental data, facilitating resource management, enhancing disaster response, and enabling the tracking of carbon emissions, satellite-based IoT solutions empower key players to take proactive measures to address climate challenges.
As the world continues to harness the potential of satellite-based IoT, it is evident that this technology will play a critical role in shaping climate action efforts and creating a more sustainable and resilient future for the planet.
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