New wireless sensor network keeps tabs on the environment

Jun 04, 2008

Have you ever wondered what happens in the rainforest when no one is looking? Research in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Science may soon be able to answer that question.

The departments of computing science and earth and atmospheric science have been working together to create a Wireless Sensor Network that allows for the clandestine data collection of environmental factors in remote locations and its monitoring from anywhere in the world where the Internet is available.

The research team, including Pawel Gburzynski, Mario Nascimento, and Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, recently launched EcoNet, a functional model of a WSN for environmental monitoring in the display house in the University of Alberta's Agriculture/Forestry Centre. The display house hosts a small but feature-rich environment that mimics that of a tropical forest. Using a WSN, a number of sensors can continuously monitor factors like temperature and luminosity and will process, store and transmit data co-operatively and wirelessly with other sensors to generate data that can then be collected and made available to users virtually anywhere on the globe. The sensors represent a technology for researchers to monitor diverse phenomena continuously and inconspicuously.

Having the data continuously monitored by researchers substantially increases the chances of uncovering anomalies early enough to investigate them promptly and thoroughly.

The overall framework of WSN can also be extended for use in other closely related scenarios such as monitoring potentially dangerous situations like hazardous waste disposal, or hard-to-witness phenomena such as ice cap movements in the Arctic.

The opportunities these sensors will provide to scientists are paramount in a global environment that is changing at an ever-increasing pace.

Once the display-house prototype is tested and customized, at least two sites are to be fully deployed in the fall, one likely in the Brazilian rainforest, and the other in a forest in Panama.

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: China's struggle for water security

Related Stories

Canada revises upward CO2 emission data since 1990

13 minutes ago

Canada revised its greenhouse gas emission data from 1990 to 2013 in a report Friday, showing it had higher carbon dioxide discharges each year, and a doubling of emissions from its oil sands.

China's struggle for water security

3 minutes ago

Way back in 1999, before he became China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao warned that water scarcity posed one of the greatest threats to the "survival of the nation".

Recommended for you

Climate censorship gains steam in red states

14 hours ago

While plenty of people found humor in the recent news that officials in Florida and Wisconsin are censoring state workers' ability to talk about, much less work on, climate change, other states are not necessarily laughing. ...

Engineers purify sea and wastewater in 2.5 minutes

17 hours ago

A group of Mexican engineers from the Jhostoblak Corporate created technology to recover and purify seawater or wastewater from households, hotels, hospitals, commercial and industrial facilities, regardless ...

Scientists eye YouTube cave videos to track water levels

21 hours ago

A spot outside Riyadh for city residents who want to cool off is enabling scientists to do more than enjoy the beauty of their surroundings; they are using YouTube videos to track its rising water levels. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.