New NASA map measures trees in the forest

Global map of forest height produced from NASA's ICESAT/GLAS, MODIS and TRMM sensors. The map will advance our understanding of Earth's forest habitats and their role in Earth's carbon cycle. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A new high-resolution map created by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the University of Maryland, College Park and Woods Hole Research Center shows an accurate picture of the height of trees in forests all over the world.

“Knowing the height of Earth’s forests is critical to estimating their biomass, or the amount of carbon they contain,” said lead researcher Marc Simard of JPL. “Our map can be used to improve global efforts to monitor carbon. In addition, forest height is an integral characteristic of Earth’s habitats, yet is poorly measured globally, so our results will also benefit studies of the varieties of life that are found in particular parts of the forest or habitats.”

Scientists are still working on understanding how forests react to climate change and how the size of a forest canopy affects biodiversity.

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