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Earth NASA Science

NASA Creates First Global Forest Map Using Lasers 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-a-tree-is-measured-and-nobody-is-around-to-see-it dept.
MikeCapone writes "Scientists, using three NASA satellites, have created a first-of-its-kind map that details the height of the world's forests. The data was collected from NASA's ICESat, Terra and Aqua satellites. The latter two satellites are responsible for most of NASA's Gulf spill imagery. The data collected will help scientists understand how the world's forests both store and process carbon. While there are many local and regional canopy maps, this is the very first global map using a uniform method for measure."
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NASA Creates First Global Forest Map Using Lasers

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  • Re:So little forest (Score:3, Interesting)

    by countSudoku() (1047544) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:53PM (#32984912) Homepage

    Any scorched trees in your neck of the woods? Plus, you get the awesome benefit of forest therapy:

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080502f1.html [japantimes.co.jp]

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @08:08PM (#32985004)
    From TFA:

    "What we really want is a map of above-ground biomass, and the height map helps get us there," said Richard Houghton, an expert in terrestrial ecosystem science.

    How's the height of the forest relevant to the storage and processing carbon? (not saying that is not relevant. Just asking how is relevant)
    Like what? Grasses in savannah/prairies/outback-bushland doesn't store/process carbon?

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @08:18PM (#32985072) Homepage

    Like what? Grasses in savannah/prairies/outback-bushland doesn't store/process carbon?

    Less than tall trees, obviously. While medium-height shrubs would contain somewhere in between.

    There are obvious deficiencies, like that they probably care about biomass density and you could have dense foliage under a shorter canopy. But it is a useful first-order indication. That's why they said the height map "helps get us there", not "is the end-all be-all, yippe we're done."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @09:13PM (#32985470)

    Combine this data with high res infrared satellite images to determine the type of foliage and density, add some extra geographic information, like soils, weather, altitude, etc, and you can get a really good estimate of the species of certain forest and the the amount of carbon it can capture among other information. Keep everything updated at least every year and you can already do some really interesting environmental stuff, like plague detection and prevention.

    I use satellite and aerial photography for environmental analysis at work, and even with just Google Earth we can save a lot of time and effort on field work. A couple times we only had to confirm certain data we already had from a nearby area and that looked the same in the satellite image, with a good sampling in the field this information can be very reliable.

  • So.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gaderael (1081429) <gaderael@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @09:20PM (#32985524)

    Anyone else hoping to see a splotch of green in the Antarctic besides me?

  • Dead forests (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pspahn (1175617) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:29AM (#32986770)

    Apparently they don't take into account all the millions of acres of dead and dying forests that result from the Mountain Pine Beetle. I know for a fact that a very large chunk of the "forest" shown in Northern Colorado is actually nothing more than a vast land filled with billions of brown sticks.

    Of course, many of you may know the situation is similar in many other areas. I've never been to BC, but from everything I've read, the situation there is 1000% worse.

    Oh well, that's what happens when you have large scale fire mitigation in populated forests.

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