Monday, February 6, 2012

Map of the Week 2-6-2012:LiDAR Mapping

Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) map of forest carbon stocks (high values in red, low values in light blue, dark blue areas are clouds) in Panama.  From:

This is an example of a valuable use of LiDAR (LIght Detection and Ranging) technology.  By conducting flyovers of the last great forests in the world such as the Amazon basin, and the use of LiDAR, scientists at the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, part of the Carnegie Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University in California, have been able to map various attributes of the forest, including measures of biodiversity, carbon stocks, and evidence of deforestation due to mining and other human activities.  In this way, they have been able to create baseline data which is being used to assess current conditions and monitor future changes in deforestation and degradation for programs such as REDD, the United Nation’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation initiative, which will be the biggest future source of funding to protect the planet's tropical forests.
An aerial image of the Amazon rainforest in Peru, taken by Greg Asner and his team from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory.
The headlines and leader from an article in The Guardian (UK Newspaper) says: “Amazon rainforest mapped in unprecedented detail - Scientists record Amazon's structure and biodiversity by bouncing laser beams off forest 400,000 times per second - the result is a three-dimensional map of the forest showing unprecedented detail.”  From:
            Thanks, Lesley Kunikis, for sending me the link to the article.  Also check out the CAO website for more of their LiDAR projects, including the mapping of archaeological discoveries, lion kills in Africa, termites on the savannah, Hawai’ian rainforest invaders, fire in African savannahs, and California’s rare ecosystems. 

Carbon stocks in the Colombian Amazon.  Photograph: Carnegie Department of Global Ecology/Stanford University

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