New global forest maps combine citizen science with multiple data sources, for an unprecedented level of accuracy about the location and extent of forestland worldwide.
New maps of global forest cover from IIASA’s Geo-Wiki team provide a more accurate view of global forests. The maps were published in the journal Remote Sensing of the Environment, and are freely available for exploration and download on the Geo-Wiki Web site.
A view of South America's forest cover from the new hybrid global forest map, viewed via the Geo-Wiki platform
While there are many existing sources of data about forests, including satellite imagery, there is broad disagreement between the data products. Knowing the location and extent of forests is vital information for ecology, climate change, and economic modelling, as well as for researchers looking for the best reference information to estimate deforestation and forest degradation.
“The new maps rely on a combination of recent multisensory remote sensing data, statistics, and crowdsourcing,” says Dmitry Schepaschenko, the lead author of the study. “By combining different data sources, and incorporating the input of trained citizen scientists, we were able to produce new maps that are more accurate than any existing data source.”
The study introduces two global forest maps, both at 1-kilometer resolution, which provide a good compromise between the level of detail and global coverage. The first, which the researchers call the “best-guess” map, uses 8 different data sources and relied on a network of citizen scientists to check or validate the classification of land cover, by looking at high-resolution satellite imagery of different locations. Compared to existing data products, the researchers found, the new hybrid map was more accurate both for forest location and estimation of percentage forest cover.
The second map was further calibrated using regional and country-level forest statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Schepaschenko explains that this makes the map more useful for economic modeling, and notes that such data are also used as inputs to international climate negotiations.
This also represents the first forest map that is consistent with FAO statistics and is freely available. A comparison of the two maps (i.e. the “best guess” and the calibrated one) highlights the countries where there are discrepancies and hence raises questions about reporting.
The new maps were produced for the year 2000 as a base year for modeling. The team also plans to update them with data for 2010 in the near future.
The new maps will be useful not only for research, but also for policymakers who rely on forest data for planning and decision making purposes. For example, past research has shown that estimates of the efforts required to reach the European Union’s biofuel target vary widely depending on which forest map was selected as an input.
The new maps complement another set of global cropland and land cover maps from the Geo-Wiki team and network, which were published earlier this year. “These new maps just go to show that regular people, in their free time, can contribute to top quality research,” says Schepaschenko.
IIASA researcher and study co-author Linda See adds “Geo-Wiki and our network of volunteers continue to help us improve land cover and develop robust products for the modelling and policy communities.”
Schepaschenko D., et al. (2015). Development of a global hybrid forest mask through the synergy of remote sensing, crowdsourcing and FAO statistics. Remote Sensing of Environment 162 (2015) 208–220 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2015.02.011
MSc Katherine Leitzell | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic
24.10.2016 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy