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NASA map sees earths trees in a new light
Feb 21, 2012

A NASA-led science team has created an accurate, high-resolution map of the height of the Earths forests. The map will help scientists better understand the role forests play in climate change and how their heights influence wildlife habitats within them, while also helping them quantify the carbon stored in the Earths vegetation.

Scientists from NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; the University of Maryland, College Park; and Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, Mass., created the map using 2.5 million carefully screened, globally distributed laser pulse measurements from space. The light detection and ranging (lidar) data were collected in 2005 by the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System instrument on NASAs Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat).

The map depicts the highest points in the forest canopy. Its spatial resolution is 0.6 miles (1 kilometer). The map was validated against data from a network of nearly 70 ground sites around the world.

NASA JPL press release

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