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NASA-sponsored map sees the forest for the trees

28 Feb 2012, 14:54 UTC
NASA-sponsored map sees the forest for the trees
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A group of scientists have combined data from a variety of sources to create a comprehensive map of the Earth’s trees. The result, which shows tree canopy height on a color-coded scale, will help scientists understand a variety of factors about the way trees interact with the planet’s climate. The data come from the decommissioned ICESat satellite, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and the Terra satellite. Additional supplementary data was used from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and the WorldClim database.
A map of the world's trees, showing height in color-coded meters. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Knowing canopy heights can yield information about how much carbon is stored in the world’s forests. According to Marc Simard of JPL, forest height measurements have, until now, been poorly measured on a global scale. Continual measurements of forest heights can also provide information about the types of wildlife living within them.
You can download the dataset as a KML file and insert it into Google Earth. Although the dataset is low resolution and lacks scale beyond the color bar shown on JPL’s website, I found it a neat exercise to fly over the highlands of West Virginia, an area with which I am familiar, and ...

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