SkyTruth developed new techniques to monitor and protect the planet throughout 2020. Help us accomplish even more in 2021.
As we approach the end of a challenging year, I want to thank everyone who helped SkyTruth accomplish so much in 2020. That includes our supporters, our partners, and our staff and interns who enabled us to advance our Conservation Vision program to automate the detection of harmful environmental activities so significantly, despite a global pandemic and persistent attacks on the validity of scientific information. At SkyTruth we say that seeing is believing, and — even more importantly — if you can see it, you can change it. To help us continue illuminating the reality of environmental impacts on the ground in 2021, please consider making a year-end donation to SkyTruth.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. this past March, SkyTruth shut down its headquarters in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. We switched to remote mode with virtually all staff working from home to minimize the spread of the virus and the risk to our team. As a conservation technology nonprofit with a global reach, we were well prepared to continue our work seamlessly: over the years members of our team have worked remotely throughout the United States and around the world, including in Peru, Nicaragua, Norway, Indonesia, and elsewhere. During the pandemic we have continued to connect regularly (some might say constantly!) online, with Zoom calls, Slack messaging, and other tools. This constant connection has enabled SkyTruth to advance our machine learning skills and expand our reach. We remain optimistic that Conservation Vision will transform environmental conservation going forward.
You can read more about our work in recent blog posts, but I’ll list a few highlights here:
- We were one of five winners in Conservation X Lab’s international Artisanal Mining Challenge for our public mapping platform that will detect illegal and unregulated mining throughout the Amazon rainforest. Our platform combines satellite and drone imagery with machine learning techniques to protect forest and river ecosystems, fish and wildlife, and waterways that thousands of Indigenous people rely on to survive.
- Our Cerulean project to detect oil pollution at sea around the world is now processing more than 1000 images a day, documenting that bilge dumping from vessels is a routine occurrence and global problem. As we refine our model and gain access to the growing volume of satellite data produced daily, we’ll be able to cover even more of the ocean, catching polluters in the act and working with partners to hold them accountable.
- Our mountaintop mining work is entering a new phase, building on the annual automated detection and mapping of new coal mining activity in Central Appalachia to evaluate the effectiveness of reclamation and revegetation of mined sites. We hope that this data will help identify ways to regenerate the damaged landscapes of Appalachia. Look for a new peer-reviewed paper on our work, co-authored by SkyTruth and Defenders of Wildlife, to be published soon in the online journal PLOS ONE.
- In partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society we crafted a machine-learning model that analyzes satellite images to detect and map the footprint of oil and gas drilling sites in Argentina. This is critical information for wildlife biologists seeking to protect biodiversity in rapidly industrializing landscapes along the Andean front and in sensitive regions like Patagonia. Our team built on work we’ve done here in the US, and we are exploring opportunities to apply this approach elsewhere to reveal the extent of drilling operations in other countries.
- We expanded our internship program to include students working around the country and around the world, including New York, San Francisco, Nepal, and Norway.
Lastly, we unveiled a new logo and revamped our website to make it easier for you to learn more about our work and access resources to help you protect the places you care about. Check out our new look and scan our Toolbox to do your own skytruthing.
Please consider supporting our work as we move into 2021. We all hope for brighter times. But know that, with your tax-deductible donation, SkyTruth will continue to be the eyes in the sky, with a vastly broader view and greater impact thanks to Conservation Vision.
Thanks for your continued support.