Satellite platforms might not be the first thing that pops into your head when thinking about the climate crisis. We are accustomed to picturing floating astronauts and colossal space stations whenever the subject of space technology arises. However, satellite technology can become the key to saving our precious planet.
Once we understand the full potential of space technologies, we can help alleviate the consequences of climate change while protecting wildlife and communities. The satellite platforms document real environmental changes by measuring, among other things, atmospheric gases, sea levels, and changing temperatures. Such accurate data helps us understand the constant climate developments and further helps in decision-making.
According to a report by the World Economic Forum, there are presently over 160 satellites that are tracking climate indicators. Moreover, over 50% of vital climate variables are only detectable from space. However, technology has the potential to do more, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. In this article, we deep dive into how climate change satellite data can help our Earth to survive.
Introduction of Satellites
Since the inception of satellites, scientists have been using them to forecast the weather, notice wildfires, and expand the understanding of Earth’s climate system. However, there have been some obstacles in the way. Today, a massive network of satellites is collecting and providing accurate data on the temperatures of our land, atmosphere, and oceans.
But, that was not how it always went. Guy Callendar, an amateur scientist, was the first to present evidence on global warming. Callendar diligently gathered data from 147 weather stations throughout the globe in 1938. He observed worldwide temperatures have increased by 0.3 degrees Celsius in the past 50 years. Unfortunately, his conclusions were mainly dismissed at that time by other scientists, governments, and industries.
Only after the introduction of satellites and Callendar’s study was taken seriously did governments start paying attention to the searing challenge of climate change.
Climate Crisis: How Serious Is It?
Contrary to popular belief, climate change is not a recent issue. However, it is only now that it is demanding to become a long-term issue for our society. Climate change indicates changes in weather patterns that have been driven mainly by greenhouse gases. They are responsible for warming up our planet, and it is predicted that by 2030, global greenhouse gas emissions might increase by another 37%.
Warmer temperatures cause changes in freshwater accessibility and rainfall patterns as well as an increase in water level and various other consequences on plants, animals, and anthropogenic factors. However, the many projections and the research supporting them are still fraught with ambiguity, as seen by the long-running global academic and political discourse on these issues.
This ambiguity further highlights the importance of better science and better analysis to understand the effects of climate change. Better science can help us to expand our knowledge in this field and gather the needed tools and technologies to tackle climate change. In this respect, satellite data on climate change has a special role in preserving the Earth.
The Role of Space Technologies and Satellite Platforms
So, why are satellite platforms useful? A satellite platform makes accurate measurements when recording the temperatures of the different areas of Earth. However, that is not its only task, and satellite platforms can almost help to overturn the climate change issue.
Let us look in detail at how a satellite platform can aid in climate preservation:
1. Protects Forests and Ecosystems
The Earth’s ecosystems are critical to life. They provide several of our fundamental necessities, such as creating oxygen. However, ecosystems and biodiversity are under threat. Satellites can help with this. RADARSAT satellites have been documenting and tracking ecosystem changes since 1995. They collect data on coasts, wetlands, forests, tundras, and other areas.
The SMOS satellite, which is fitted with equipment never previously utilized in space, tracks variations in moisture in the soil and sea surface salinity. This data allows us to comprehend how global warming affects the hydrological cycle, and such data can help us make appropriate decisions and protect our ecosystem.
2. Check Soil Moisture
Soil moisture is essential in understanding climate change, and ocean salinity are also essential. SMOS examines not just ocean salinity but also soil moisture across the planet and is the first satellite to do so. It also monitors soil thawing and freezing in boreal regions of Canada and other cold locations worldwide.
3. Protects Ozone Layer
The ozone layer shields humans from the sun’s damaging UV radiation. This blanket has been diminishing for decades due to the discharge of chemicals such as CFCs. Satellites play a vital role in observing the ozone layer.
Canada is a leading country in researching ozone and carbon emissions from space. The SCISAT satellite of Canada launched more than 18 years ago, analyzes the ozone layer as well as ozone-destroying chemicals in the atmosphere of Earth.
The OSIRIS, another Canadian space technology, tracks the ozone layer. They both contribute to our understanding of how the ozone layer is healing, thanks to the efforts of world governments to reduce ozone-depleting activities.
4. Aid in Agriculture
Satellite imaging and climatic variables may also help other industries like agriculture, as well as the people they serve. Digital Earth Africa makes global satellite measurements more available and highlights how they may be utilized to address economic and social inequities using Amazon Web Services and Open Data Cube.
Such data may be utilized to assist farmers in increasing agricultural productivity, hence decreasing hunger, combating uncontrolled mining and its consequences, and uncovering new chances for economic progress.
5. Track Pollution
Pollution not only affects air but other natural resources as well, such as water and soil. Satellites can monitor sources of pollutants and their movement. MOPITT, a Canadian sensor, collects observations on carbon monoxide, a primary air pollutant caused by incomplete combustion. This data will assist researchers in better understanding the ozone hole, global warming, quality of air, and pollution.
Satellites answer the vital question of how to help with climate change. The expansion of science and space technology is one of the primary ways the Earth can be saved. Sadly, satellite platforms’ full potential has not yet been tapped into. What steps are you undertaking to save our planet? Let us know in the comments!