When it’s finished, it will be the tallest skyscraper in South America. But despite its mammoth size, few people will work or live inside it.
Instead, the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory, which is nearing completion in the middle of the Amazon rain forest, will gather data on gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and other components of pollution to help scientists better understand what is happening to our climate.
It could also help us answer a key question about the rain forest’s relationship to CO2.
The Amazon Tall Tower, which is being painted a bright orange, floats in a sea of green -- from where this worker stands, the nearest city is Manaus, at 100 miles away. To build it, construction crews had to use steel carried thousands of miles from southern Brazil.
A thick carpet of Amazonian jungle blankets the earth in all directions. Hundreds of miles from the closest sign of human life, the tower can provide scientists with a snapshot of how the earth is responding to the indirect changes to the planet's climate we are causing.
At nearly 1,100 feet from the ground, the tower will be able to notify researchers of changes in cloud formations and shifts in weather patterns.
Scientists will also gather information on pollution in the area, including how much carbon dioxide and methane are present in the air.
One of the key questions researchers hope the new tower will help them answer is whether the Amazon is collectively adding carbon to the environment or sucking it up. This could help them nail down how continued deforestation will affect the climate.
The structure, a joint project between Brazil's National Institute of Amazonian Research and Germany's Max Planck Institute, will work 24 hours a day, gathering data during the day ...
The Amazonian tower joins several other atmosphere observatories, including the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii and the Zotino Tall Tower in Siberia.
Together, these structures provide researchers with an overview of how our atmosphere has changed over the past 60 years, and how humanity continues to change the earth.
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