Climate change and M2M

Climate change and M2M

The study of climate change has something in common with M2M – Remote monitoring, whichaccounts for a high percentage of the rapidly growing M2M market.

For climatologists and governments, remote monitoring is essential for measuring the effects of climate change.

Beyond the most immediate concerns, acquiring data will, hopefully, enable great improvement in models of climate change, unravelling its complexities and increasing the accuracy of predictive capabilities.

Much as with M2M networks, climate data is acquired by both satellite and ground-based systems and includes (but is definitely not limited to):

  • Emissions and pollutants (of particular importance to carbon trading schemes seeking to reduce greenhouse gases), including many parameters (reflectivity and absorption, interaction with solar radiation and ozone layer, distribution, etc.)
  • Wind and ocean currents
  • Temperature
  • Sea levels
  • Glacial, ice pack, and high altitude ice melt
  • Soil moisture
  • Undersea volcanic activity and methane release

Nascent experiments involving the monitoring of plant and animal populations, a related area of great concern, are underway as well.

If you consider all of this, and in particular the nearly 200 countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, you might well wonder exactly how this monitoring will be best accomplished (leaving aside, for the moment, the additional challenge of processing massive amounts of acquired data).

Might this be left to NASA climate satellites, with the US sharing relevant data?

Apparently not, according to a Boston Globe article dated June 9, 2006, which reported NASA's shelving of a $200 million satellite mission designed to measure soil moisture, while the Deep Space Climate Observatory has also been cancelled and at least two other climate-related satellite missions have been cancelled and/or delayed.

On the other hand Project Vulcan, a collaboration between Purdue University, NASA, and the US Dept of Energy that seeks "to quantify North American fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions at space and time scales much finer than has been achieved in the past" is a reality.

[Click here to see a video of a carbon emissions map]

Project Vulcan will "support the demands posed by the launch of the Orbital Carbon Observatory (OCO) scheduled for 2008/2009" and will be followed by The Hestia Project, a global version.

Other government funded – and highly creative – monitoring experiments employing M2M technologies exist, e.g. the High Performance Wireless Research & Education Network (HPWren), a government and university collaboration.

Considering the earth's surface area of 510,065,600 square km, the massive scale and growing urgency of the challenge of global climate change suggest that this is a job for government and industry, working with scientists.

The NASA satellite collaborations and small government-funded university programs using a mixture of "off-the-shelf" and custom-designed equipment can only lead the way. The industry best suited for remotely monitoring global climate change is the M2M industry.

By all accounts, this should become the dominant M2M business opportunity of the 21st century. What could be of greater importance?

[Source: Beecham Research]

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