Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

BIOMASS, a Satellite to Monitor World’s Forests, Set for 2020 Launch

20.06.2013
The European Space Agency is set to develop a new Earth-observing satellite that will map and monitor global forests, providing an unprecedented level of detail and understanding to the role forests play in the global carbon cycle and potential climate change.

Hank Shugart, W.W. Corcoran Professor of Environmental Sciences in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences, served on the scientific advisory committee that ultimately convinced the space agency to fund and develop the nearly $525 million satellite.

Called BIOMASS, the satellite is planned for a 2020 launch. In the meantime, a great deal of instrumentation will be developed and calibrated prior to the launch. Shugart, an expert in forestry science and in the use of space satellites for studying the environment, will continue to advise the European Space Agency as it constructs and tests instruments, a role he has previous filled for NASA and other agencies.

“BIOMASS will be a hugely important instrument for global environmental science research in the coming years, and its observations will be the basis of significant international environmental policy in the areas of carbon cycling and global warming,” Shugart said.

The satellite will allow scientists to, in effect, weigh the volume of carbon stored in the forests of the world and bring greater understanding to their role in the cycling of carbon – a major greenhouse gas – in and out of the atmosphere. The satellite also will allow long-term monitoring of forest usage, such as deforestation or reforestation. The information would prove useful to international efforts to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation in rapidly developing countries.

BIOMASS will carry a long wave radar system – P-band – that can penetrate cloud cover and forest canopy to measure the mass of trees in vast remote areas that otherwise would be impossible to accurately assess from the ground.

“It will provide a vertical profile of every layer of the forest; the height and volume,” Shugart said. “It’s an overhead inventory of vast areas, some of which are nearly impenetrable to ground-based researchers.”

The system will provide 3-D mapping of boreal, temperate and tropical forests from the Arctic Circle to the equator and below, and, by implication, the likely habitat range for endangered animals and vegetation. Areas of concentration would include the massive boreal forests of Russia, the temperate regions of China and the vast rain forests of the Amazon basin and other tropical regions.

Because the radar waves would interfere with ground-based radar used by the military in the United States and Europe, those areas would not be scanned by BIOMASS, but environmental scientists already closely study forests in those areas.

“BIOMASS will give us a clear ongoing picture of the condition of the world’s forests and how they might be changing naturally or due to human activity,” Shugart said. “And our involvement with the project should provide new research opportunities for our scientists and students.”

BIOMASS will be the seventh addition to the European Space Agency’s fleet of Earth Explorer satellites, three of which are in orbit, with the rest under development.

McGregor McCance | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.virginia.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems
23.01.2018 | University of Exeter

nachricht How climate change weakens coral 'immune systems'
23.01.2018 | Ohio State University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>