DEC 04, 2019 6:59 AM PST

New method to measure carbon emissions from rain forests

Researchers from the Arizona State University Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (GDCS) have developed a new system capable of monitoring carbon emissions from tropical forests with much more detail than previous systems’ capacities. They have published their methods in Scientific Reports and hope their findings will allow scientists and economists alike to quantify the costs of deforestation in as close to real-time as possible.

This new method provides detailed information about carbon emissions in Peru's rain forest. Photo: Pixabay

"We combined advanced remote sensing data and machine learning algorithms to estimate aboveground carbon stocks and emissions throughout the highly diverse ecosystems of Peru. Our approach will serve as a transformative tool to quantify and monitor climate change mitigation services provided by tropical forests," said lead author Ovidiu Csillik.

Csillik and colleagues developed this carbon monitoring system based on satellite imagery data from Planet Inc. and Planet Dove. Combining these images with 6.7 million hectares of airborne LiDAR measurements allowed them to use a random forest machine learning regression workflow to create maps of carbon stocks and emissions for Peru. This technique permits the researchers to track the transitions of forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources.

As the authors report in their study, Peru holds 6.928 billion metric tons of carbon; only 2.9 billion of which are found in protected areas or their buffers. Additionally, they write, “We found significant carbon emissions between 2012 and 2017 in areas aggressively affected by oil palm and cacao plantations, agricultural and urban expansions or illegal gold mining.”

"Our study powerfully demonstrates a new capability to not only measure forest carbon stocks from space but far more critically, to monitor changes in carbon emissions generated by a huge range of activities in forests," said co-author Greg Asner, who is the director of GDCS. "The days of mapping forests based simply on standing carbon stocks are behind us now. We are focused on carbon emissions, and that's precisely what is needed to mitigate biodiversity loss and climate change."

Sources: Scientific Reports, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
DEC 16, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Human-nature interactions increase during the pandemic, particularly in women
DEC 16, 2020
Human-nature interactions increase during the pandemic, particularly in women
In an effort to understand how people have been turning to nature to fulfill their needs during the pandemic, researcher ...
DEC 31, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Land subsidence projections for 2040
DEC 31, 2020
Land subsidence projections for 2040
Results from a meta-analysis literature review of global land subsidence have been reported in a Policy Forum of Science ...
JAN 31, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Piecing together the largest database yet on coral spawning
JAN 31, 2021
Piecing together the largest database yet on coral spawning
Important new information on coral spawning can now be found all in one place, reports a recent study published in Natur ...
FEB 19, 2021
Microbiology
Weed Killers May Raise Levels of Antibiotic-Resistant Microbes in Soil
FEB 19, 2021
Weed Killers May Raise Levels of Antibiotic-Resistant Microbes in Soil
Chemicals that are designed to kill weeds, known as herbicides, can apparently raise the levels of antibiotic resistant ...
FEB 18, 2021
Plants & Animals
Scientists Stumble Upon Life Below Ice Shelf
FEB 18, 2021
Scientists Stumble Upon Life Below Ice Shelf
In a discovery touted as a "fortunate accident," scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) stumbled u ...
FEB 19, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Where is fern diversity most prevalent in the world and why should we care?
FEB 19, 2021
Where is fern diversity most prevalent in the world and why should we care?
Why are some areas of the world more biodiverse than others? In an effort to understand what factors contribute to the u ...
Loading Comments...