The Swiss are certainly no strangers to the effects of global warming. Living in the shadow of the Alps, many are keenly aware of the already drastically reduced snow cover at lower altitudes and the retreating glaciers - changes that are likely to become much more severe according to the latest climate model projections.
In an effort to ward off the worst - or, at the very least, predict its coming - a coalition of Swiss scientists and policymakers have just started the Swiss Experiment, a project aimed at providing the very best in data collection, management and communications technology for the purposes of environmental research and monitoring.
Participants will be able to tap into a deep pool of high-tech gizmos and advanced technologies, including the latest in wireless networking, sensor technology and data analysis/storage, to conduct the ambitious study. These technologies will enable scientists to gather more data at a much faster pace; in addition, by creating a shared IT infrastructure, SwissEx will allow for the rapid sharing and consolidation of recent findings.
Here's a brief description of SwissEx from the project website:
"In the Swiss Experiment, multidisciplinary environmental observations based on new sensor and data technology will make it possible to achieve an affordable yet unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution of complex environmental systems. It is structured along three major axes: data acquisition -- the process of measuring and recording environmental parameters; data management -- the means to safekeep that data and channel it to its users; and data exploitation -- the application of models to that data in order to transform it into scientific and practical results."
The project's leaders hope to use the information to improve models that predict natural disasters, such as avalanches, floods and landslides, and monitor environmental degradation. "This is an extraordinary cross-institutional and cross-disciplinary project. With this collaborative approach and the IT expertise involved, we can all take our research to a new level," said Domenico Giardini, a participant in the project.
One corporate heavyweight that will be lending its expertise to the project is Microsoft, which plans on supporting the scientists' efforts "through the application of emerging sensor network technologies and the creation of a platform where valuable sensor information can be shared."
Projects like SwissEx provide an ideal model for how large-scale environmental monitoring should be done in a modern age beset by the many uncertainties of climate change. It's encouraging to see members from industry, the government and the scientific community pool their resources and knowledge to initiate such an ambitious scheme.
Via ::Science Centric: Environmental monitoring goes high-tech in Switzerland (news website)