Fast-tracking IoT solutions to climate change
26 Jul 2022 | 4 min read
In a world of global innovation and cooperation, practical solutions to the challenges created by climate change and environmental...
In an age defined by increasing environmental awareness and the urgent need for sustainable solutions, the role of technology is pivotal. Satellite Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity has emerged as a versatile tool for addressing environmental challenges. While it’s often assumed that real-time data is crucial, many environmental applications privilege affordable and reliable data collection in remote, unreachable areas. In this article, we explore the convergence of Satellite IoT connectivity and several critical ecological use cases, including permafrost monitoring stations, water quality monitoring, smart farming, animal tracking, air quality monitoring, and natural disaster monitoring and prevention.
Before delving into specific applications, it’s crucial to grasp the transformative potential of Satellite IoT connectivity. This technology leverages a network of orbiting satellites to facilitate seamless data transmission from remote IoT devices. Its global coverage, and ability to work in areas beyond the reach of traditional cellular or terrestrial networks make it an ideal solution for environmental monitoring.
Permafrost, the frozen soil beneath the Earth’s surface in cold regions, is a vital component of our planet’s climate system. Monitoring changes in permafrost temperature and stability is critical for understanding climate change’s impact. In regions where terrestrial networks are sparse or nonexistent, Satellite IoT connectivity provides a lifeline. These remote monitoring stations collect data about permafrost conditions, including temperature, thaw depth, and ground movement, enabling scientists to predict and adapt to climate-induced permafrost changes. Satellite IoT ensures that the data reaches scientists, no matter how remote the station may be. This data, as exemplified by the NASA Earth Observatory map, plays a pivotal role in addressing the urgency of tracking and mitigating the thawing permafrost’s impact on intensifying climate change.
Monitoring air quality is indispensable for public health and environmental protection. In densely populated urban areas, terrestrial networks often support air quality data collection. However, in remote areas, especially those affected by wildfires or industrial pollution, Satellite IoT is a lifeline. Data from these areas can be crucial for public health agencies, researchers, and policymakers to assess air quality, identify pollution sources, and develop mitigation strategies.
According to the UN Nations –UN Water, By 2050, the number of people at risk of floods will increase from 1.2 billion to 1.6 billion. In the early to mid-2010s, 1.9 billion people, or 27% of the global population, lived in potentially severely water-scarce areas. In 2050, this number will increase to 2.7 to 3.2 billion people.
Maintaining clean and safe water sources is a fundamental environmental concern. Water quality monitoring is essential in urban and remote areas to ensure the health of ecosystems and human populations. Satellite IoT technology offers an effective solution for monitoring water quality in isolated or challenging environments, like deep lakes, remote rivers, or offshore locations. It helps gather data on parameters such as turbidity, pH levels, and pollutant concentrations, facilitating rapid responses to water contamination incidents and protecting aquatic ecosystems.
Agriculture stands at the forefront of technological innovation, and smart farming is a prime example of how Satellite IoT connectivity can boost environmental sustainability. The World Meteorological Organization states that only 0.5% of water on Earth is useable and available freshwater – and climate change is dangerously affecting that supply. Over the past 20 years, terrestrial water storage – including soil moisture, snow and ice – has dropped at a rate of 1 cm per year, with significant ramifications for water security. In this regard, farmers use IoT sensors to monitor soil moisture, weather conditions, and crop health to minimize water use. In remote or expansive agricultural areas, Satellite IoT connectivity ensures that data from these sensors reaches farmers, enabling them to optimize irrigation, reduce resource wastage, and increase crop yields. This technology not only benefits farmers but also reduces the environmental footprint of agriculture.
Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, and wildfires can have devastating environmental and human impacts. Data on environmental conditions is essential for early warning systems and effective disaster response. Satellite IoT connectivity empowers monitoring and prediction efforts in disaster-prone regions where traditional networks might fail due to infrastructure damage. It ensures reliable data transmission from forest fire sensors, weather stations, and remote cameras, supporting disaster management agencies to save lives and reduce environmental damage. Flash floods are an example of how important it is to gather predictive data to prevent a natural disaster.
Flash floods account for approximately 85% of all floods and have the highest mortality rate among all flooding categories. Flash floods are sudden and short, with a time frame of less than six hours between the observable causative event and the flood itself, which tends to have a high peak discharge. Flash floods have enough power to change the course of rivers, bury houses in mud, and sweep away or destroy whatever stands in their path. They are complex hydrometeorological events that are hard to predict. Therefore, preparing for them requires expertise in hydrology and meteorology combined with knowledge of local conditions.Milica Dordevic, Petra Mutic and Hwirin Kim, WMO Secretariat
Conservation efforts depend on the ability to track and protect endangered species. Satellite IoT is crucial for wildlife biologists and researchers, allowing them to monitor animal behaviour in remote areas. GPS-enabled IoT devices attached to animals transmit location data, enabling scientists to study migration patterns, assess habitat use, and protect ecosystems. This technology has been instrumental in understanding and conserving species like sea turtles, birds, and big cats.
Satellite IoT connectivity has become an indispensable tool in various environmental use cases by filling the gap left by terrestrial networks. Whether monitoring permafrost, tracking wildlife, ensuring clean water, or preparing for natural disasters, Satellite IoT provides the vital link for collecting data where it is most needed. Its ability to deliver affordable, reliable data from remote, unreachable areas makes it a lifeline in our ongoing efforts to protect and preserve our environment. As we continue to address pressing environmental challenges, the role of Satellite IoT connectivity is only set to expand, enabling us to make more informed decisions for a sustainable future.