Everyone has a part to play in conserving nature, and our friends over at the Cloud Appreciation Society created an unique way for its members to get involved. If you haven’t heard of this niche group, their mission is to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the sky and our atmosphere, and this year they have been supporting efforts to protect what is dubbed the “world’s largest river in the sky” – the Amazon Rainforest.
What’s the “River in the Sky”?
If you observe the Amazon Rainforest from space and compare it to other parts of Earth, it appears to almost always be obscured by clouds. This is because of the massive amount of trees and forest, which are like “400 billion geysers shooting water into the sky”. Evaporation draws water from a trees’ roots to the tree top, and a large tree can release up to 1,000 liters of water per day. Given that figure, trees in the Amazon overall release about 20 billion tons of water which is what creates the “river in the sky”. Though the Amazon is home to the largest river system in the world, more water flows in the sky above the Amazon basin than within its extensive waterway system.
Water released by trees condenses into clouds, lowering nearby air pressure. The decreased air pressure creates the winds that steer the “sky river” from the Atlantic to the Andes. Clouds in this unseen yet expansive deposit pour essential rain over vast areas of South America.
How the Cloud Appreciation Society is Helping Protect the River in the Sky
Since trees provide the ingredients for cloud formation, throughout this year the Cloud Appreciation Society has committed to supporting our drone monitoring training programs headed at the Southwest Amazon Drone Center. This center, launched in 2017, focuses on training local landowners, indigenous communities, students, and officials in Peru to actively monitor and report illegal deforestation in the western Amazon as well as providing drone overflights for the local government upon request.
The Southwest Amazon Drone Center allows for local community members to get training, certifications, and access to high-tech drones that can be used as remote sensing tools to monitor deforestation in tropical forests in a safe, fast, and scientific way. By providing these services, we empower people to protect their forests by giving them the tools needed increase legal responses to illegal activities. Presenting evidence, such as drone photos and videos of unlawful deforestation or mining, can be used to prosecute offenders which then deters future illegal activities. Moreover, the use of drone technology is important due to the vastness and remoteness of the Amazon Rainforest — it is a challenge to patrol by foot and stop incidents of illegal deforestation. Face-to-face encounters with those conducting illegal deforestation for financial gain can also be extremely dangerous, and potentially deadly. With technology, Amazon Conservation is changing that.
Cloud Appreciation Society supports our activities by donating 5% of all 2020 membership revenues to the programs at the Southwest Drone Center. Their support enables us to train hundreds of local people to use this technology to fight in the front lines to protect the Amazon Rainforest, one of the last wild places left on Earth. Visit their website here.