NASA has developed several large-scale projects that facilitate the remote sensing of forest environments globally.

Greenbelt, Maryland, United States

NASA Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI)

NASA's Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation uses Lidar technology to observe tropical and temperate forests, focusing on the impacts of deforestation and habitat degradation on carbon sequestration and biodiversity. GEDI was developed at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and was launched and installed on the International Space Station in 2018.

Diagram of the GEDI instrument. Image source: NASA GEDI [image]. Retrieved 27 July 2022, from https://gedi.umd.edu/instrument/instrument-overview/

Using high resolution laser ranging (Lidar) technology, GEDI makes precise measurements of forest canopy height, vegetation structure, and biomass. To do so, it relies on existing, crowd-sourced datasets to calibrate with data collected from space. GEDI quantifies the amount of carbon stored in Earth’s vegetation and estimates the impacts of climate and land use change. These measurements can aid understandings of carbon and water cycling processes, habit and biodiversity on a large scale, with the capacity to contribute to international policy frameworks and carbon markets. GEDI is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2023, but scientists are pushing for its data collection period to be extended. GEDI's data are freely downloadable.

Washington, District of Columbia, United States

NASA Worldview

The NASA Worldview online platform enables visitors to see near global, realtime and historical satellite data. The platform is open source and offers data visualisation tools that might support wildfire management and air quality monitoring.

NASA Worldview
Satellite imagery of daytime land cover data with 10-minute increments. Image Source: NASA Worldview [screenshot]. Retrieved January 27, 2022 from https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/

This screenshot shows land cover satellite data in 10 minutes increments on 5 August 2021. These images are used to monitor forests and enables people to see where deforestation is happening in near real-time.

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