Can satellites measure carbon emissions from deforestation?

A recent article published in Carbon
Balance & Management
suggests the use of satellite technology for
monitoring global carbon stocks.

Deforestation and forest
degradation accounts for nearly a third of anthropogenic carbon emissions and
reduction of these emissions is an important aspect of climate change policy.
However, effective management and reduction of these emissions relies on an
accurate method for mapping and monitoring the carbon stocks of the forested
regions of the world.

Carbon stocks are traditionally mapped using field
measurements of vegetation or land cover types to measure the above ground
biomass of an area, as satellite data was thought to be inadequate for the
task. A recent review published in Carbon
Balance and Management
and featured on Mongabay challenges
this consensus.

Mapping and monitoring carbon
stocks with satellite observations: a comparison of methods

Scott J Goetz, Alessandro Baccini, Nadine T Laporte, Tracy
Johns, Wayne Walker, Josef Kellndorfer, Richard A Houghton, Mindy Sun

Carbon Balance and Management 2009, 4:2
(25 March 2009)

In their article, Dr Goetz et al compare traditional
mapping methods with new methods that directly utilize satellite measurements
from several different satellite sources. They conclude that a combination of
remote sensing methods provide more coherent maps of carbon stocks and also
removes the uncertainty and ambiguity associated with purely traditional

This improved method for monitoring carbon stock comes at a
crucial time for addressing global climate change with several meetings on the
topic being held throughout the year leading up to the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change
in Copenhagen in
December. You can stay up to date with the latest articles from Carbon
Balance & Management
by signing up for email article alerts.

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