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Oilsands’ eye in the sky

The world will soon have a bird’s eye view of what effect the oil sands are having on our environment.

The world will soon have a bird’s eye view of what effect the oil sands are having on our environment.

Pairs of eyes around the world were fixed on computer screens at 6 p.m. yesterday, watching the highly anticipated launch of Ibuki, a Japanese satellite that is the first to monitor greenhouse gases from space.

“This tool is going to allow us new opportunities for solutions,” said Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, professor of earth and economic sciences at the U of A.

Ibuki can monitor pieces of land 10 kilometres squared so exact that leaks in pipelines can be pinpointed from space.

The research team is eagerly awaiting data from the satellite to start arriving, predicting major benefits for the provincial government and industry. Ibuki will fly over Alberta once every three days.

“If there is a forest fire, it’s going to show up like an eyesore in the landscape,” Sanchez-Azofeifa said. “We’ve also not looked yet at the emissions of cities, and people will start looking at urban development and how this contributes to CO2 — especially here in Edmonton where there are upgraders in the middle of the city.”

It's hoped the data will help the province and environmental groups understand the effects oil extraction and production are having on the world, and what to expect in the future.

For more information about Ibuki, visit www.jaxa.jp.

 
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