Home About me Leveraging Advanced Sensor Technology for Climate Change Assessment at the United Nations

Leveraging Advanced Sensor Technology for Climate Change Assessment at the United Nations

by Massimo
Data Science R&D


In my role as a senior manager at the United Nations, I had the unique opportunity to lead a team of data scientists and architects on a groundbreaking climate change project. 

The project aimed to provide actionable insights on the impact of climate change on agrobiodiversity and plant genetics. Utilizing a range of advanced sensors, we were able to capture a wealth of data, enabling us to make accurate models and analyses. This article delves into the specifics of the sensor technology used and the invaluable data collected for climate change assessment.


The Sensor Arsenal

Soil Moisture Sensors

These sensors were crucial in understanding how changing climate conditions affect soil water content, a key factor in plant health.

Temperature Sensors

We deployed these sensors to monitor both air and soil temperature, providing us with data to understand how temperature variations impact agrobiodiversity.

Humidity Sensors

These sensors helped us measure air humidity levels, which are critical for plant transpiration and overall health.

Light Sensors

Light sensors were used to monitor light intensity and duration, factors that directly influence plant growth and photosynthesis.

pH Sensors

Soil pH levels were continuously monitored to understand how soil acidity or alkalinity changes under different climate conditions.

Electrical Conductivity Sensors

These sensors assessed soil salinity, providing insights into how climate change could lead to soil degradation.

CO2 Sensors

Monitoring carbon dioxide levels helped us understand its impact on photosynthesis and plant growth.

Nutrient Sensors

These sensors measured essential soil nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, offering insights into soil fertility.

Leaf Wetness Sensors

These sensors detected moisture levels on plant leaves, a critical factor in the spread of plant diseases.

Wind Speed Sensors

Wind conditions were monitored to understand how they affect plant transpiration and soil erosion.

Infrared Sensors

We used thermal imaging to assess plant health, providing a new layer of data for our analyses.

Spectral Sensors

These sensors captured specific wavelengths of light, providing detailed data on plant health and stress levels.

Data-Driven Insights

Utilizing these sensors, we collected a plethora of data types, including soil moisture levels, temperature variations, humidity levels, and more. This data was then processed and analyzed to create predictive models on the impact of climate change on agrobiodiversity. 

The project led to significant improvements in our understanding of climate change impacts on agrobiodiversity. It also enabled interoperability with other public datasets, thanks to strong data quality policies that made the data fully FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable). The project required appropriate data modeling, definition of metadata schema, and data mining from 1.2 billion of GBIF records, creating a detailed data catalog to enable easy discovery and searchability of the insights.

AI Modeling for Climate Change Prediction

Below is a Python excerpt that demonstrates how to use a machine learning algorithm to predict climate change based on data coming from plant sensors. 

The example uses a simple linear regression model for demonstration purposes. 

The sensor data is assumed to be accessed using a JSON RESTful API.

pip install requests
pip install pandas
pip install tensorflow

import requests
import pandas as pd
import tensorflow as tf
from sklearn.model_selection import train_test_split
from sklearn.preprocessing import StandardScaler
from sklearn.metrics import mean_squared_error

# Function to fetch sensor data from RESTful API
def fetch_sensor_data(api_url):
response = requests.get(api_url)
if response.status_code == 200:
return response.json()
return None

# Fetching sensor data
api_url = "http://XXX/api/sensor_data" # Replace with functioning API URL
sensor_data_json = fetch_sensor_data(api_url)

if sensor_data_json:
 # Convert JSON to DataFrame
 df = pd.DataFrame(sensor_data_json)
 # Features and target variable
 features = ['soil_moisture', 'temperature', 'humidity', 'CO2_levels']
 target = 'climate_change_impact' # This is a hypothetical target variable
 # Splitting the data into training and testing sets
 X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test = train_test_split(df[features], df[target], test_size=0.2, random_state=42)
 # Standardize the features
 scaler = StandardScaler()
 X_train_scaled = scaler.fit_transform(X_train)
 X_test_scaled = scaler.transform(X_test)
 # Initialize and train the model
 model = tf.keras.Sequential([
  tf.keras.layers.Dense(128, activation='relu', input_shape=(X_train_scaled.shape[1],)),
  tf.keras.layers.Dense(64, activation='relu'),
 model.compile(optimizer='adam', loss='mean_squared_error')
 model.fit(X_train_scaled, y_train, epochs=50, batch_size=32)
 y_pred = model.predict(X_test_scaled)
 # Evaluate the model
 mse = mean_squared_error(y_test, y_pred)
 print(f"Mean Squared Error: {mse}")
 print("Failed to fetch sensor data.")

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