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6 June 2011

Mapping Tropical Forest Carbon Storage

A map of carbon storage in tropical forests has been collated by a NASA research team from NASA satellite data. The data provides a baseline for ongoing carbon monitoring and research and is expected to serve as a useful resource for managing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

A map of carbon storage in tropical forests has been collated by a NASA research team from NASA satellite data. The data provides a baseline for ongoing carbon monitoring and research and is expected to serve as a useful resource for managing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

The new map, created from ground- and space-based data, shows for the first time the distribution of carbon stored in forests across more than 75 tropical countries. Most of that carbon is stored in the extensive forests of Latin America.

To arrive at a carbon map that spans three continents, the team used data from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System LiDAR on NASA's ICESat satellite. The researchers looked at information on the height of treetops from more than 3 million measurements. With the help of corresponding ground data, they calculated the amount of above-ground biomass and thus the amount of carbon it contained.

The team then extrapolated these data over the varying landscape to produce a seamless map, using NASA imagery from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft, the QuikScat scatterometer satellite and the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.

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Image Courtesy: NASA

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