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Projects gallery 2020-2021 – Climate detectives
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Projects gallery 2020-2021

Climate Detectives Projects 2020-2021

Project topic: Deforestation

Project title: The influence of tree cover on the global CO2 concentration using Austria as an example

Team: The Land of Treehouses and Explosive Trees

GRG Billrothstraße 73   Vienna   Austria   23 8Student’s age: 12-13 years old, 14-15 years old


Research question

To what extent do forests influence the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere? How did the CO2 concentration in Austrian airspace develop in recent years? How did the forest cover in Austria develop during the same period and how does it correlate with the CO2 concentration?

Summary of the project
The left image shows an area of the Amazon in 2017, before the forest fires. The right image shows the same section during the 2019 fires. Intact vegetation is shown in green, fires or destroyed forest area in yellow to brown tones. Own calculations show, that compared to the 2017 image, about 560km² more were on fire or already destroyed in the 2019 image. The graphics were taken from the EO browser.

“Explosive Trees” is a team consisting of students between 13 and 15 years old. We decided to participate in the ESA Climate Detectives project due to our interest in climate change and motivation to make a difference. We have noticed a severe decrease in global forest population over the past few years and the increase in deforestation, which led us to choose this topic as our main focus.
Through intensive research and investigation, we have gathered useful information concerning the importance of trees in the battle against climate change. As a way of converting these results into real world use, our team came up with the idea of a smartphone app that specializes in tracking and reducing the users carbon footprint.

Main results and Conclusions
The graph shows forest expansion since 1961 to 2021 both as a percentage of Austria’s land area and in hectares. Between 1961 and 2021, there was a forest increase of about 3.9%, which corresponds to 300 thousand hectares. Per year, the Austrian forest area thus grows by an average of 4,762 soccer fields. Austria is the second most densely forested area in Central Europe after Slovenia. Austria’s highly developed forest cover almost reaches the area expansion of Switzerland and the Netherlands. Source: https://www.waldwissen.net/de/technik-und-planung/waldinventur/waldflaeche-oesterreich (15.04.2021)

Our research shows, that the Austrian tree population does not have a direct impact on the CO2 concentration around the world. Since 1961, it has increased by over 3,000 square kilometers, due to the importance of forestry for the Austrian economy. In stark contrast, regions such as Siberia and the Amazon rainforest, that are being used as cultivable land, have had a decrease of roughly 110,000 square kilometers between early 2019 and mid-2020 and 600,000 square kilometers between 1990 and 2010 respectively. Although one might think Austria isn’t as affected, since air is evenly distributed throughout the planet, the impact is almost non-distinguishable between our country and said regions. Because of that, our daily choices – whether in Austria or Brazil – influence the CO2 concentration all over the world. That is why we need to direct our focus more towards other sectors, such as transportation, clothing and nutrition among others, which can be directly influenced by an individual in Austria.

What’s Next? Actions to help lessen the problem
By completing an evaluation, the user can find out their emissions and is given a daily CO2 limit, which equals to a 15% reduction in monthly emissions. If they manage to sustain this for a whole month, the user can choose to have a tree planted in their name. Furthermore, a decrease in daily CO2 emissions takes place every month to eventually reach the ultimate goal of being climate neutral.

App: https://xd.adobe.com/view/1a86ce00-c880-41c5-8025-1707eb7c64f2-4fd5/
As mentioned above, our team has developed a smartphone app that helps users track & reduce their carbon footprint. (Due to COVID-related complications we were unable to create a finished product suitable for commercial use. Nevertheless, we have created a mockup that works like the normal app, but is currently limited in functionality)

This is how it works:
By completing an evaluation, the user can find out their emissions and is given a daily CO2 limit, which equals to a 15% reduction in monthly emissions. If they manage to sustain this for a whole month, the user can choose to have a tree planted in their name. Furthermore, a decrease in daily CO2 emissions takes place every month to eventually reach the ultimate goal of being climate neutral.
Social Media:
In addition to the app, we also created an Instagram account. This way we can also use the reach of social media to motivate people to protect the environment. Click here to go to our account:
https://instagram.com/explosivetreesofficial

Project link:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pUrvZrLriuSIhQAW3ohyOYlIj-ZnLzYO/view

Project poster:

Download project poster PDF

Projects are created by the teams and they take the full responsibility of the shared data.
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