How do satellites contribute to reducing climate change?

2024-02-21 2024-02-21T20:13:56Z
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Arabia Weather - The Earth is moving increasingly rapidly towards the boiling stage, as things often seem to get out of control. We feel this very clearly around the world, as July 2023 saw record high temperatures. The severity and frequency of weather phenomena is constantly increasing, which requires the combined efforts of the world's great powers to confront this challenge before it is too late.

In the context of efforts to confront climate change, the use of satellites has become prominent, as they are considered an effective means of obtaining accurate data and advanced analyses. Scientists and researchers are working to exploit this data and analyzes to put forward innovative solutions capable of mitigating the effects of climate change and its repercussions on our planet.

Sentinel 2 satellites

The Sentinel satellites are part of a fleet of satellites specifically dedicated to providing a wide range of data and images essential for the European Commission's Copernicus programme.

Sentinel 2 features an innovative, high-resolution multispectral imager, which includes 13 different spectral bands covering multiple angles of the Earth's surface. This integration of high resolution and spectral capabilities provides an unprecedented view of the Earth, with coverage of up to 290 square kilometres.

Sentinel ArabiaWeather

The Sentinel 2 mission launched two identical satellites into the same orbit, 180 degrees away from each other, to ensure comprehensive coverage of the Earth's surface, including large islands, inland and coastal waters, every five days.

A specialized team at the European Space Operations Center (ESOC) manages flight control for both satellites. Sentinel 2A was launched into orbit in 2015, followed by the launch of Sentinel 2B two years later. There have been missions to launch satellites for various purposes, the last of which was the launch of Sentinel 6 in 2020.

Overall, there are reportedly more than 5,000 satellites in operation to date, which can track and detect illegal resource extraction, illegal mining operations and counter illegal logging and fishing. Some of these satellites carry sensors dedicated to measuring greenhouse gas emissions.

Support agriculture and vegetation

As scientists seek to understand the impact of climate on trees and vegetation, advances in imaging technology are helping them see entire forests and individual trees in a way never before possible.

An example of this is the research of Professor Michael Alonzo, assistant professor of environmental sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at American University in Washington, whose results were published several months ago. He researched using small satellites known as CubeSats, which weigh only a few kilograms and were launched into low Earth orbit with the aim of obtaining more accurate images to measure the response of trees to rising temperatures.

“If we want to know whether a particular plant is changing its life cycle events due to warming, we need to zoom in on the plant at an individual level and understand how it interacts with the environment,” Professor Alonzo said.

Alonzo and his colleagues analyzed CubeSatz images during periods of plant growth between 2018 and 2020, with the area studied covering more than 10,000 Washington street trees. The sample included 29 species of broad-leaved trees.

By collecting hundreds of photographs taken daily, they tracked when each tree appeared green in the spring and lost its leaves in the fall. They were then able to analyze the duration of the tree's growth period and calculate the influence of various factors on this period, such as the type of tree, planting location, and air temperature. This analysis helps in a deeper understanding of ecosystems and how they respond to changes in temperature.

For tropical forest degradation, scientists have mainly relied on medium-resolution satellite images, available in 30-meter detail, to monitor the annual state of these forests. Although these efforts were useful in tracking the long-term effects of forest loss, they were not sufficient to monitor the devastation as it occurred.

Hence, the Nisar satellite, which represents the result of cooperation between the American and Indian space agencies, is scheduled to be launched during the first quarter of this year on a mission that will last for three years. Nisar will allow us to observe the entire surface of the Earth every six days using radar technology.

According to NASA, Nisar's radar signals can penetrate the forest canopy and reach tree trunks and the ground below. By analyzing the returned signals, researchers will be able to estimate the density of vegetation in a small area approximately the size of a football field.

Nisar moon

The advantage of Nisar is that it can pass over the same locations every six days, allowing it to paint an approximate real-time picture of global forest loss. With his ability to see the ground floor of the forest, he will be able to provide data and evidence about the cause of forest loss, whether it is caused by fires, diseases or logging.

Also noteworthy is the launch of the UN General Assembly's Crop Watch Innovation Program in 2021, with the aim of using satellites to monitor the Earth and support agriculture and farms. In August last year, 11 countries from across Africa and the Middle East were equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to implement the CropWatch system according to local requirements.

Crop Watch uses satellite systems to obtain data on climate, drought, pests and diseases, with the aim of monitoring crop conditions and improving farm management. The program helps in optimal planning of crop import or export needs, provides more effective early warning mechanisms, and in some cases helps in more quickly estimating disaster damage to crops.

Forest fire prevention

Researcher at the Rall Space Center in Britain, Hugh Mortimer, points out that research into space technology never stops. Since the 1980s, the RAL Center has been contributing to the development and calibration of a series of instruments to support satellites that can measure sea and land surface temperatures with unprecedented accuracy.

Recently, they developed an instrument to measure sea surface temperatures from up to 800 kilometers away with an accuracy of 0.2 degrees Celsius, which is equivalent to being able to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris while standing on Big Ben in London.

The sensitive heat detectors installed on the Sentinel satellites help in identifying what can be described as a strong signal on the ground, which can be translated into an initial warning to predict the occurrence of forest fires in certain areas.

This technology enables rapid interaction with forest department officials and fire brigades, so that efforts can be effectively directed to potential fire locations to prevent them from breaking out, or precisely directed when a fire actually occurs to control it. This is based on measuring the radiant energy emitted by the fire, which reflects its severity.

Fire crews also receive vital information about fires such as the locations of hotspots, enabling them to make informed decisions about the best ways to fight fires. For example, a fire team can use water or other extinguishing agents based on their prior knowledge of their effectiveness at a particular point, and analyzing the data they receive enables them to determine the direction of spread and speed of fire spread, which contributes to fighting forest fires more efficiently.

Source: aljazeera

This article was written originally in Arabic and is translated using a 3rd party automated service. ArabiaWeather is not responsible for any grammatical errors whatsoever.
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