Amazon rainforest mapped in unprecedented detail
Scientists record Amazon’s structure and biodiversity by bouncing laser beams off forest 400,000 times per second. Huddled in a twin-engine Dornier 228 aeroplane called the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, the scientists are capturing multicoloured images of the Peruvian rainforest canopy that verge on the psychedelic.
As well as measuring how the forest ecosystem is responding to the 2010 Amazon drought – the worst ever recorded – the technology accurately monitors deforestation and degradation, and has revealed unexpectedly high levels of biodiversity in high forest on the Andean rim of the Amazon basin.
The data could prove critical to the United Nation’s Redd (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) initiative, which will be the biggest future source of funding to protect the planet’s tropical forest.