Earth  ID: 12419

Mapping Forests Through Time

Trees are one of the world’s best absorbers of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. As climate change becomes an increasingly urgent matter, scientists seek to understand the effect of forest changes on the increase of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Researchers have used the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA's Landsat data to create 25 years’ worth of annual maps of the lower-48 United States. These maps illustrate disturbances in the country’s forests over time. The maps use dark green to represent undisturbed forest, bright yellow to represent forest loss or removal, and grey or brown to represent areas with few to no trees. Scientists have linked large disturbances in forestry to coinciding natural events and human activities such as deforestation and mining. Logging and hurricanes have had a large impact on the Southeast, while fires and insect invasions have damaged forests in the West. Watch the video to learn more.

Source Material

Story Credits

Lead Visualizer/Animator:
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC)

Lead Producers:
Matthew R. Radcliff (USRA)
Joy Ng (USRA)

Lead Scientists:
Jeffrey Masek (NASA/GSFC)
Chengquan Huang (University of Maryland)
Feng Zhao (University of Maryland)

Lead Writer:
Caitlin Trenkle (Experiential Learning Program, UMD)

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NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

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