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NASA points its lasers at forests, but why?

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With the intention of revealing the most intimate secrets of the planet’s forests, the POT send right now a shower of laser pulses to Earth from International Space Station.

The GEDI mission, developed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of MarylandIt allows obtain unprecedented 3D maps of forest areas even in the most remote places.

The data allows to investigate how the earth’s forests are changing, what role do they play in climate change mitigation Y the regional and global impacts of planting and cutting down trees.

With the new GEDI data product (Global Ecosystem Dynamics Researchfor its acronym in English), the ecosystem and climate researchers can quickly locate their regions of interest and study forest structure and carbon content more accurately than in the past.

The launch of the new biomass product occurs when GEDI is within a one year mission and represents the culmination of critical advances in lidar research (a type of laser) spatial.

GEDI is a lidar instrument high resolution specifically designed to measure vegetation. From your point of view aboard the International Space Station, GEDI rapidly bounces laser pulses off trees and bushes below to create detailed 3D maps of forests and landforms. The resulting data product, processed and gridded with a resolution of 1kmallows researchers study questions about forest ecosystems, animal habitats, carbon content Y climate change.

In his first three years in orbit, GEDI has captured billions of measurements between 51.6 degrees north and south latitude (approximately the latitudes of London and the Falkland Islandsrespectively).

The new data product combines GEDI data with ground and air lidars to build a global biomass map that reveals the amount of vegetation contained in an area.

“A big area of ​​uncertainty is that we don’t know how much carbon is stored in the earth’s forestssaid Ralph Dubayah, GEDI principal investigator and professor of geographic sciences at the University of Maryland. Trees extract carbon from the atmosphere to fuel their growth. But scientists need to know how much carbon do forests store to be able to predict how much will be released by deforestation or forest fires. About half of plant biomass is composed of carbon.

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