Climate Adaptation


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Fantastic climate change project out of the University of Kansas. It shows how UAVs (aka, drones) are being used to analyze disappearing ice and sea level rise. Most interesting is that this is an NSF funded project with excellent real-world applications. The project can assist coastal governments better prepare for impacts, help urban planners to build better cities, and get students involved in reducing vulnerability in coastal and low-lying areas. 

Home drone video of the Exxon Pegasus pipeline oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas. It’s being reported that media are not allowed to enter the site. Though, CNN has good video here.

Using drones to track whales. Civilian drones are being used to investigate environmental harm. I am incredibly tempted to start my own firm to use these beasties to identify pollution spills around Western Massachusetts…

Meet a One-Eyed, Six-Legged, Flying Whale Chaser

biologists are turning to less obtrusive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to spot species including whales, dolphins, sea lions and penguins. From small helicopters to planes with a 10-foot (3 meters) wingspan, the battery-powered craft could become a popular new tool.

"What makes these things so effective is they capture a tremendous amount of information," said NOAA marine biologist Wayne Perryman, based at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif.

For years, Perryman has experimented with military reconnaissance techniques to track marine life. He collaborates with former Navy officer Don LeRoi of Aerial Imaging Solutions in Connecticut.

Their latest device is a hexacopter. With six quiet engines, internal gyroscopes, an accelerometer and a GPS, the mechanical bird has great maneuverability, Perryman said. For the past two years, Perryman has snapped shots of penguin and seal colonies in Antarctica with the hexacopter. Future trips include a jaunt to Alaska to survey stellar sea lions.

"When you get into aggregations of thousands of animals, humans are lousy at determining how many animals there are," Perryman told OurAmazingPlanet. "With photography, you can go back in time and see something you maybe wouldn’t have noticed," he adds.

Sperm whale spotting

In February and March, Perryman and LeRoi helped an international science team track sperm whales near New Zealand by capturing whale photos with the copter. The scientists attached tracking tags to the whales, and knowing their size and shape from the photos improves understanding of how the whales dive underwater, Perryman said. It was the first ship-based test for the ‘copter, named Archie by the scientists onboard.

More at LiveScience

CIA Closes Climate Center. Cites Budget Cuts, yet they're Buying More Drones.

Something is not right about this story. The CIA originally stated the Climate Center would focus on global threats. They would use climate science to help predict where future conflicts would erupt, usually over scarce natural resources such as food and water supply. They already monitor trends and population behaviors, and the center added environmental issues to their list of threats.

The center was designed as a small unit of senior specialists focused on the impact that environmental changes could have on political, economic and social factors in countries of concern to the United States. The analysts probed questions such as, under what scenarios might a massive drought cause large-scale migration, and when might a government’s failure to respond to a devastating flood open the door for terrorist groups to win over the local populace?

But, it seems sustained, Republican political pressure won the day.

Congressional Republicans skeptical of the science behind climate change sought to block the center’s funding shortly after it was launched. Those efforts failed, but sources say the center received little internal support after Panetta left the CIA in 2011 to take the top job at the Defense Department. Under his successor, David Petraeus, the agency was highly focused on terrorism, specifically targeted killings using armed drones.

I presume the CIA is still monitoring climate and disaster issues. But, they’re probably not doing it in one group. It’s more likely that they’ve dispersed the monitoring across various parts of the organization.

More of my military/climate posts

Sources: E&ED, TheAmericanBear

Drones to scan cities, Google Street View style? The future is here. But, how could this identify vulnerabilities in cities?


Eco Drones   |   Christopher Geist

By capitalizing on the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which created guidelines for the introduction of unmanned aircraft, drones could be introduced to Manhattan.

Free of the traditional limitations of the street grid, the drones’ paths could evenly spread seeds throughout the city, thereby bridging the ecological gaps within the urban fabric.

Better able to mitigate the urban context, the drones will do what natural processes could not: re-introduce plant life to the city and aid in sustainability.


Model airplane used to monitor rainforests - conservation drones take flight

""The main goal of this project is to develop low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that every conservation biologist in the tropics can use for surveying forests and biodiversity," said Koh via email. "Drones are already being used for many purposes including the military, agriculture, and even in Hollywood for filming. But they are still not commonly used for conservation purposes."

The reason, says Koh, is the high cost of commercial systems, which can run $10,000-50,000. Koh’s first drone cost less than $2,000 and can be carried in a backpack.”

Read more: Mongabay

"Drone" used to detect illegal logging and deforestation. Concept is to make homebrewed monitoring devices for every-day conservation researchers and environmental activists.

Autopilot drone flying a transect

Background: Autopilot drone developed by a team of ecologists and software developers for forest monitoring, real-time land use mapping, and biodiversity conservation. This is part of a series of field tests in a remote forest area in Sumatra, Indonesia. The plane is fully autopilot, except when landing (due to a small landing area).

Autopilot system is based on ArdupilotMega developed by an open-source community at
The plane is a low cost Hobbyking Bixler RC model.
Camera system is a GoPro Hero HD (version 1).

#1: Logging transect,
#2: Orangutan search,
#3: River mission,

H/T Revkin

These home-drones would be great for regular folks to use after disasters, wildfires, and storms. Ima call them “journalidrones.”

We can all agree that this is the coolest thing that’s ever been on Kickstarter, right?

Via Spiegelman

More garbage architecture glorified by the unthinking drones at Inhabitat.