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9 Practical Technologies That Can Be Used for Environmental Monitoring

With the world now facing multiple environmental issues at the same time, keeping an eye on our ecosystems is emerging as a critical way of assessing the ongoing risks to our own species. Fortunately, every generational advancement in technology has birthed new solutions for environmental monitoring. Interestingly as well, some older monitoring technologies are still proving their worth in both traditional and novel applications.

Let’s look at several useful technologies widely used in ongoing environmental monitoring projects:

1. Pipe Floats

In most long-term aquatic monitoring contexts, pipe floats are the go-to mounting solution. When equipped with environmental sensors, pipe floats offer an elegant yet effective solution for monitoring water quality in rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. What’s great is that sensors can be tethered to pipe floats in such a way that they are either underwater or sitting just above the surface, depending on the data that needs to be gathered. Some types of pipe float are also engineered to provide minimal resistance to waves, which can be important in situations when sensors are measuring currents. Today, these structures help provide valuable insights into aquatic ecosystems, monitoring pollution levels, and other markers of environmental health.

2. Balloon-Mounted Sensors

Though remote sensors are routinely mounted on satellites, drones, and aircraft, high-altitude weather balloons remain a good choice for collecting atmospheric and ground data. The relatively low cost and very high availability of balloons enables constant monitoring of various phenomena, from air pollution and UV levels to urban sprawl and agricultural activities.

3. Drones

While balloons reign in terms of cost per flight hour, drones offer a versatile, easy-to-transport platform for environmental sensors. Indeed, drones are now regularly used to carry a variety of sensors (though high-resolution cameras are the most common sensor payload). Usually, researchers use drones to survey landscapes, monitor wildlife populations, and assess the impact of natural disasters, among countless environmental monitoring tasks.

4. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Sometimes referred to as “underwater drones”,  autonomous underwater vehicles or AUVs are unmanned submersibles designed to explore the ocean depths without direct human control, delving into areas that would be impossible or uneconomical for manned submersibles to explore. Like the other tools mentioned thus far, AUVs can be mounted with a variety of sensors, cameras, and acoustic devices to collect data on ocean conditions.

5. Smart Weather Stations

These ground-based stations are equipped with sensors to measure temperature, humidity, wind speed, and precipitation, usually away from inhabited areas. They provide real-time weather data for forecasting and monitoring environmental conditions. To that end, these stations integrate various sensors, data analytics, and communication technologies to monitor changes in multiple environmental parameters as they happen. With extreme weather events now occurring more frequently, both manned and autonomous smart weather stations are providing both scientists and public policymakers with the data needed to mitigate the human and environmental costs of calamities.

6. Low-Cost Sensors

The proliferation of affordable digital technologies is revolutionising environmental monitoring through affordable sensors. The growing demand for consumer smart devices has enabled a variety of sensors to come to the market at low prices, giving researchers the ability to collect more data than was previously possible. The cost-effectiveness of these sensors means they can be deployed in remote locations to allow for continuous monitoring and timelier interventions.

7. Citizen Science Apps

As mentioned, the demand for smart technologies has essentially given ordinary individuals access to a variety of sensor devices in their phones and other home appliances. In this regard, citizen science applications aim to take advantage of this ongoing digital transformation by allowing the public to collect and report data using their smartphones. These apps are not just enabling large-scale data collection efforts, but are also democratising ecological stewardship by increasing regular citizens’ stake in environmental monitoring.

8. Environmental DNA Analysis

DNA analysis is no longer just for determining ancestry or forensics. The sensitivity of contemporary DNA testing methods means that biodiversity can be partly determined through water and soil samples. This is a massive boon for researchers tracking rare or elusive species, without potentially disruptive direct observation. 

9. LiDAR Technology

LiDAR or light detection and ranging technology uses laser pulses to create extremely accurate 3D maps of a given location that could be used for modelling. The technology is now used to complement traditional optics-based photogrammetry methods for terrain mapping, forest inventory, and urban planning.  When properly applied, LiDAR-derived data can refine our understanding of how landscapes influence local ecosystems. In turn, this better understanding can be used to forge better stewardship practices in specific areas.

Harnessing Monitoring Innovations for a Greener Tomorrow

Environmental monitoring activities demand a mix of proven and cutting-edge technologies. With the world currently undergoing multiple environmental crises, these technologies promise to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the ways we observe, analyse, and manage our natural surroundings. As researchers and technology providers continue to innovate new mounting options, sensors, and modelling technologies, the hope is that we can collectively inch closer to a more sustainable planet for succeeding generations.

Gold Coast Magazine
Gold Coast Magazine

Our in-house team and affiliates bringing you the latest in Culture, Lifestyle and Entertainment from around the globe and the great stories of the Gold Coast

9 Practical Technologies That Can Be Used for Environmental Monitoring

With the world now facing multiple environmental issues at the same time, keeping an eye on our ecosystems is emerging as a critical way of assessing the ongoing risks to our own species. Fortunately, every generational advancement in technology has birthed new solutions for environmental monitoring. Interestingly as well, some older monitoring technologies are still proving their worth in both traditional and novel applications.

Let’s look at several useful technologies widely used in ongoing environmental monitoring projects:

1. Pipe Floats

In most long-term aquatic monitoring contexts, pipe floats are the go-to mounting solution. When equipped with environmental sensors, pipe floats offer an elegant yet effective solution for monitoring water quality in rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. What’s great is that sensors can be tethered to pipe floats in such a way that they are either underwater or sitting just above the surface, depending on the data that needs to be gathered. Some types of pipe float are also engineered to provide minimal resistance to waves, which can be important in situations when sensors are measuring currents. Today, these structures help provide valuable insights into aquatic ecosystems, monitoring pollution levels, and other markers of environmental health.

2. Balloon-Mounted Sensors

Though remote sensors are routinely mounted on satellites, drones, and aircraft, high-altitude weather balloons remain a good choice for collecting atmospheric and ground data. The relatively low cost and very high availability of balloons enables constant monitoring of various phenomena, from air pollution and UV levels to urban sprawl and agricultural activities.

3. Drones

While balloons reign in terms of cost per flight hour, drones offer a versatile, easy-to-transport platform for environmental sensors. Indeed, drones are now regularly used to carry a variety of sensors (though high-resolution cameras are the most common sensor payload). Usually, researchers use drones to survey landscapes, monitor wildlife populations, and assess the impact of natural disasters, among countless environmental monitoring tasks.

4. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Sometimes referred to as “underwater drones”,  autonomous underwater vehicles or AUVs are unmanned submersibles designed to explore the ocean depths without direct human control, delving into areas that would be impossible or uneconomical for manned submersibles to explore. Like the other tools mentioned thus far, AUVs can be mounted with a variety of sensors, cameras, and acoustic devices to collect data on ocean conditions.

5. Smart Weather Stations

These ground-based stations are equipped with sensors to measure temperature, humidity, wind speed, and precipitation, usually away from inhabited areas. They provide real-time weather data for forecasting and monitoring environmental conditions. To that end, these stations integrate various sensors, data analytics, and communication technologies to monitor changes in multiple environmental parameters as they happen. With extreme weather events now occurring more frequently, both manned and autonomous smart weather stations are providing both scientists and public policymakers with the data needed to mitigate the human and environmental costs of calamities.

6. Low-Cost Sensors

The proliferation of affordable digital technologies is revolutionising environmental monitoring through affordable sensors. The growing demand for consumer smart devices has enabled a variety of sensors to come to the market at low prices, giving researchers the ability to collect more data than was previously possible. The cost-effectiveness of these sensors means they can be deployed in remote locations to allow for continuous monitoring and timelier interventions.

7. Citizen Science Apps

As mentioned, the demand for smart technologies has essentially given ordinary individuals access to a variety of sensor devices in their phones and other home appliances. In this regard, citizen science applications aim to take advantage of this ongoing digital transformation by allowing the public to collect and report data using their smartphones. These apps are not just enabling large-scale data collection efforts, but are also democratising ecological stewardship by increasing regular citizens’ stake in environmental monitoring.

8. Environmental DNA Analysis

DNA analysis is no longer just for determining ancestry or forensics. The sensitivity of contemporary DNA testing methods means that biodiversity can be partly determined through water and soil samples. This is a massive boon for researchers tracking rare or elusive species, without potentially disruptive direct observation. 

9. LiDAR Technology

LiDAR or light detection and ranging technology uses laser pulses to create extremely accurate 3D maps of a given location that could be used for modelling. The technology is now used to complement traditional optics-based photogrammetry methods for terrain mapping, forest inventory, and urban planning.  When properly applied, LiDAR-derived data can refine our understanding of how landscapes influence local ecosystems. In turn, this better understanding can be used to forge better stewardship practices in specific areas.

Harnessing Monitoring Innovations for a Greener Tomorrow

Environmental monitoring activities demand a mix of proven and cutting-edge technologies. With the world currently undergoing multiple environmental crises, these technologies promise to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the ways we observe, analyse, and manage our natural surroundings. As researchers and technology providers continue to innovate new mounting options, sensors, and modelling technologies, the hope is that we can collectively inch closer to a more sustainable planet for succeeding generations.

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Gold Coast Magazine

Gold Coast Magazine

Our in-house team and affiliates bringing you the latest in Culture, Lifestyle and Entertainment from around the globe and the great stories of the Gold Coast