NASA to Monitor Role of Forests in Earth’s Carbon Cycle

NASA to Monitor Role of Forests in Earth’s Carbon Cycle

by Vikas Vij

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 8:00am



NASA is popularly associated with exploratory missions into space to probe the solar system and beyond. However, in a role reversal of sorts, now the space agency has announced that it is setting up a system to monitor planet earth from space. Using a cutting edge technology called lidar (“light plus radar”), NASA is developing a Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) device that will help map earth’s forests in 3D and improve understanding of their role in the carbon cycle and the shaping of earth’s climate.

Lidar technology allows the beaming of laser pulses from space on to earth’s surface, which are then bounced back to the device that sent them. GEDI will make use of lidar to enable scientists to study the amount of carbon the forests contain. Bryan Blair, deputy principal investigator for GEDI at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said that lidar has a unique ability to precisely measure the height and internal structure of the forest at the fine scale needed to estimate its carbon content.

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Image Credit: Flickr via wackybadger

Vikas is a staff writer for the Sustainable Development news and editorial section on Justmeans. He is an MBA with 20 years of managerial and entrepreneurial experience and global travel. He is the author of "The Power of Money" (Scholars, 2003), a book that presents a revolutionary monetary economic theory on poverty alleviation in the developing world. Vikas is also the official writer for an international social project for developing nations "Decisions for Life" run in collaboration between the ILO, the University of Amsterdam and the Indian Institute of Management. 

CATEGORY: Environment