This is how drones could help to fight climate change

Drones today serve a variety of functions, from capturing aerial photography to assisting in military operations. But one particular service may end up being their chief contribution: by acting as mitigating forces against the impacts of climate change. These little gadgets are now capable of everything from fighting dwindling bee populations and reducing carbon emissions to tracking changes in wildlife population and gathering water samples.

Perhaps the most prominent way in which drones help fight climate change is by assisting with data collection. Drones can travel to places where humans cannot easily go, thereby reducing research costs and increasing the accuracy of data collection.

Researchers at Cornell University have used drones to measure surface reflectivity, logging how much solar energy a landscape reflects and absorbs. This measurement is crucial for understanding climate change, and can help forest planners determine which locations to plant trees to get the most climate benefit. Satellites typically gathered this information in the past, but drones have the advantage of being more agile.

Image: REUTERS/Heino Kalis

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