SIPAMHidro uses Cipó to monitor electrical discharges in the Amazon region

System collects data to minimize impacts in the Amazon

Amazon is one of the planet regions most affected by global climate change, because variations in the Ecuador line cause events like floods, droughts and storms that directly affect the environment and the local population. In seasonal periods of low rainfall and high air temperatures, river water levels in the Amazon basin may become low for navigation, leaving communities isolated. The droughts also cause fires that alter the ecological balance in the Amazon Forest, which holds 12% of the world's biodiversity. Deforestation by human action contributes even more to aggravate this scenario.

Given the effects of these climate phenomena, a monitoring system was launched in Brazil that integrates hydro-meteorological data from the Amazon, such as rainfall and river conditions, in order to generate information for the use of the scientific community, public agencies, and the general population. The system called SIPAMHidro is operated by the Operational and Management Centre of the Amazon Protection System (Censipam), linked to the Ministry of Defence.

One of SIPAMHidro work fronts is the monitoring of atmospheric electrical discharges in the Amazon, through radio frequency receiving antennas, which can locate lightning up to 7,000 km away. The data is sent from the city of Belém, in the North region, to the Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of São Paulo (IAG/USP). The academic unit coordinates an international cooperation network, STARNET, for detection of atmospheric discharges.

Monitoring can be followed on Raios Online portal, which shows the georeferenced information of two sensors in the Amazon region, in Belém and Manaus, and ten other sensors – nine in Latin America and one in Cape Verde, Africa – which is processed in a central station in São Paulo for the access of researchers in the country and abroad.

Due to connectivity difficulties in the Amazon, the responsible agency uses RNP (the Brazilian National Research and Educational Network) e-Science service, Cipó, which creates end-to-end circuits to use a direct data communications channel with the University of São Paulo (USP). The service facilitates the daily work of researchers who require guaranteed bandwidth and better performance in data transfers where the time factor is critical. This is the case of the STARNET network, which carries out updates every five minutes.

According to Censipam, data from the SIPAMHidro system contribute to advances in research on the Earth's hydrological cycle, where the Amazon is one of the most active regions, and serves as basis for real-time applications in the areas of water resources, meteorology, security in aviation and energy sector.

For Censipam’s Science and Technology analyst Márcio Lopes, this information makes it possible to forecast severe weather and issue alerts that can save lives. "In the Amazon, public agencies such as state and city Civil Defence can access real-time information on floods, droughts and severe storms, followed by flooding and inundation, to minimize the impacts of natural disasters on inhabited areas", explains. In this region, where rivers are the best way to get around, river navigation is also benefited.