One of six towers equipped with sensors to measure temperature, water vapor, and solar radiation Rainforests are a precious commodity worldwide. Scientists are working hard to understand these complex systems and their impact on climate change.
In November 2009, Microsoft Research, in collaboration with researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of São Paulo, deployed a network of sensors to study the Serra do Mar rainforest in Brazil. Only about eight percent of this rainforest survives today.
The team used hundreds of sensors to measure temperature, water vapor, and solar radiation across a hill slope—essentially taking the vital signs of the rainforest. They collected approximately 18 million data points over the course of four weeks, which scientists at the University of São Paulo are using to improve their understanding of this ecosystem.
The team hopes to take its technical, scientific, and deployment success and apply what they have learned in this study to other environmental projects, such as a much larger study in the Amazon.