The last 10.000 years have been one of the most stable climate periods in the history of the Earth. But now, our climate is getting warmer as we are producing more greenhouse gases than ever before. European Environment Agency (EEA) studies climate change and uses WSN for monitoring environment with Waspmote. In the ESRI User Conference in San Diego, July 2011, Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the European Environment Agency, presented some conclusions such as the use of sensors like Waspmote would help to understand and prevent the climate change.
Fig. 1.- World greenhouse gas emissions
Most of the warming in recent decades is very likely the result of human activities. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) State of the Climate Report and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Surface Temperature Analysis indicate the average temperature of the Earth's surface has increased by about 0.8ºC since 1900. Other aspects of the climate are also changing such as precipitation patterns and storminess.
Global temperature increases are joined by the mounting threats of population growth, soil loss, and aquifer depletion. Agriculture will no longer be reliable, and people will start to move to regions where food is still available. In fact, it is the first time in the Earth that more people live in cities than in rural areas.
In 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of the world's population was living in towns and cities. By 2030 this number will swell to almost 5 billion, with urban growth concentrated in Africa and Asia. While mega-cities have captured much public attention, most of the new growth will occur in smaller towns and cities, which have fewer resources to respond to the magnitude of the change. The challenge for the next few decades is learning how to exploit the possibilities urbanization offers. The future of humanity depends on it.
Climate change: Waspmote used by EEA in one of its main topics
European Environmental Agency (EEA) is having to introduce , almost overnight, a completely different way of viewing the environment. One which is actually going to be about early warning systems, about how quickly the ice cap is melting, for instance.
EEA has proposals that look at having a maintained platform out in the Artic that will tell them how quick the ice sheet is throughout the year. Furthermore, EEA will link this to a program of global monitoring for environment and security, connecting their space observations with what's actually happening on the skin of the Earth.
EEA is also involving themselves in sensors, concretely they are testing Waspmote technology. As they say, the main problem with most things in the environment is they are very expensive. Whereas the fixed platform in the Artic would cost millions of euros, Waspmote platform costs only a few hundred euros.
Fig. 2.- EEA Executive Director Professor Jacqueline McGlad with one Waspmote
Waspmote platform has been used by the EEA in real environments such as in a bee case of study in order to measure the environmental conditions where bees are producing honey. In fact, honey produced in cities is much cleaner than honey produced in the countryside, because there are no pesticides. This amazing and unimaginable result would not be known without Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN).
Fig. 3.- Waspmote used by the EEA to monitor beehives
EEA has also used Waspmote for monitoring concentration of gases in different kinds of scenarios. More than 15 different sensor can be connected to our Gas Sensor Board and EEA has chosen O2, O3 and CO2 sensors to carry out their tests.
Fig. 4.- Waspmote used by the EEA to monitor concentration of gases
EEA sees a future which is completely embedded with sensors, giving terabytes of data that will be available to be able to not only locate changes but to translate them into meaningful policies for citizens and also for decision makers.
Wireless Sensor Networks as a tool for measuring the impact of the climate change
Climate change is happening and has consequences on economic and natural systems and human health. Temperatures are rising, rainfall patterns are shifting, glaciers and snow are melting, and global mean sea level is rising. Extreme weather events resulting in hazards such as floods and droughts are expected to become more frequent and intense.
The cost of collecting environmental data using current methods is labour intensive and expensive. The requirement for infrastructure, in particular, limits the area that can be monitored and the frequency at which measurements can be taken and transmitted.
Wireless Sensor Networks are a recent and suitable technology for collecting data about the natural or built environment. They consist of nodes comprising the appropriate sensors along with computational devices that transmit and receive data wirelessly. Moreover, the nodes work independently to record environmental conditions cooperating with their neighbours to wirelessly transmit their readings via an ad-hoc network.
Waspmote can monitor environmental parameters using the different sensor boards specifically designed for this purpose. More than 50 sensors may be used for different applications such as preventing floods, measure concentration of harmful gases (fig. 5c) (CO2, NO2, etc), radiation levels (fig. 5d), smart agriculture (fig. 5a) or even improving parking in cities (fig. 5b) for reducing pollution.
Fig. 5.- Waspmote Sensor Boards
The motes can be placed on top of pylons, under the roads or in a field, and recharge their batteries with solar panels. Covering long distances is also an issue in this scenario since the goal is to monitor coast areas, cities or fields. Waspmote gets outstanding radio links in the frequency bands of 2.4GHz, 900Mhz and 868Mhz using the 802.15.4/ Zigbee protocols.
Waspmote's modularity and openness enables environmental solutions to be deployed flexibly by customers. For larger scale deployment, Libelium offers a development service to create custom metering boards with just one or two sensors.
If you are interested in Waspmote, we will be glad to help you to design your system. You can request for a quotation of Waspmote here.