Microsoft: Rainforest sensor network is model for future

Technology helps make sense of carbon emissions impact

Microsoft's emerging technologies research team has been called in to help on a study aimed at helping understand the impact of carbon emissions on the Amazon rainforest.

The Brazilian Rainforest Sensor Network study is a joint effort of the University of Sao Paulo, Johns Hopkins University, Sao Paulo Research Foundation, the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research and Microsoft Research.

The network includes sensors that are installed on six towers to measure temperature, water, vapor and solar radiation.

Microsoft program manager Rob Fatland was called in to assist with the project because of his experience with sensor networks in hostile, rugged environments. He says:

"Sensor networks are distributed across extended terrain and so they open up an entirely new scope of applications. Another critical feature of this technology is that it has a very light footprint. It can be installed using fairly noninstrusive methods, and as a result, we do not impact the environment we are trying to observe."

Sensors on a small hillside in Brazil attempt to make sense of the Amazon rainforest.

Eventually, sensors like the one in the Amazon could be used in the ocean or in other harsh climates, such as polar ice fields, Microsoft said.

Images: Microsoft

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