Deforestation of Rondonia, Brazil from 1975 to 2009

  • Released Monday, October 5th, 2009
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:54PM
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In the 1970s, Brazil's Program of National Integration built roads across the Amazon and settled land along these roads with colonists. These roads were catalysts of land use change in the Amazon.

Brazil is also home to more than a quarter of Earth's tropical forests. Considering that the band of lush green that circles the globe through many equatorial nations is fundamental to the overall health of the whole planet's environment, careful monitoring of forest health in the tropics is essential. Tropical forests act as major carbon 'sinks', places where ambient carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be absorbed by growing things and sequestered for years. Definitive evidence shows that excess carbon dioxide can contribute to the greenhouse effect and speed global warming. Similarly, tropical forests also act as a primary producer of oxygen. In the respiration process that absorbs gaseous carbon dioxide, trees and other plants give off oxygen.

Data taken in 1975 and 2009 from the Landsat series of spacecraft shows enormous tracts of forest disappearing in Rondonia, Brazil.

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NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio


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