UMD-NASA Project to Map World’s Forests in 3D

by Liam Farrell

A University of Maryland project aboard the International Space Station will soon start giving scientists new insights into how much carbon is stored in the planet’s trees and how much carbon dioxide they can absorb, key to understanding a warming planet.

The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) instrument, which launched with a SpaceX commercial resupply mission in December, will use a laser method called lidar (which stands for light detection and ranging) to take three-dimensional measurements of the earth’s surface and comprehensively map its forests.

A collaboration between UMD and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., GEDI is scheduled for a two-year mission. It will provide scientists with data that has applications in everything from analyzing snowmelt and the impact of fires and hurricanes to predicting the weather.

“To be able to have any kind of rational policy about how one protects forests, you have to know what you are starting with,” says Ralph Dubayah, a professor in the Department of Geographical Sciences and the principal investigator of GEDI.

With GEDI fully tested and operational in space, Dubayah expects initial results to be available in the fall.


Leave a Reply

* indicates a required field