17 Jan 2012
Fully understanding our natural resources is vital to the health and sustainability of our planet. With this in mind, over the past six years, Josef Kellndorfer and Wayne Walker of the Woods Hole Research Center created a detailed map that shows actual tree cover over the U.S. With the help from data from the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey, the forests were mapped down to a scale of 30 meters, or roughly 10 computer display pixels for every hectare of land (4 pixels per acre). And, researchers estimate that their mapping database now contains measurements of more than 5 million trees.
Here’s the image of the map itself:
As NASA points out, trees are one of Earth’s largest banks for storing the carbon that gets emitted by natural processes and human activities. Forests cover about 30 percent of the planet’s surface, and as much as 45 percent of the carbon stored on land is tied up in forests.
This map will lay the foundation for us to have a better understanding of forests being able to hold more or less carbon in the past, as well as any correlation to where trees are located and their effectiveness in carbon storage.
And, we like the GEOINT angle of this entire project. The researchers used information from space-radar stations as well as data from other satellite installations in conjunction with existing ground-based surveys to complete the cartography.