The first detailed maps of global forest changePosted by Matt Hansen and Peter Potapov, University of Maryland; +Rebecca Moore and +Matt Hancher, Google
Most people are familiar with exploring images of the Earth’s surface in Google Maps and Earth, but of course there’s more to satellite data than just pretty pictures. By applying algorithms to time-series data it is possible to quantify global land dynamics, such as forest extent and change. Mapping global forests over time not only enables many science applications, such as climate change and biodiversity modeling efforts, but also informs policy initiatives by providing objective data on forests that are ready for use by governments, civil society and private industry in improving forest management.
In a collaboration led by researchers at the University of Maryland, we built a new map product that quantifies global forest extent and change from 2000 to 2012. This product is the first of its kind, a global 30 meter resolution thematic map of the Earth’s land surface that offers a consistent characterization of forest change at a resolution that is high enough to be locally relevant as well. It captures myriad forest dynamics, including fires, tornadoes, disease and logging.
The satellite data came from the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) sensor onboard the NASA/USGS Landsat 7 satellite (http://goo.gl/wMRTy0
). The expertise of NASA and USGS, from satellite design to operations to data management and delivery, is critical to any earth system study using Landsat data. For this analysis, we processed over 650,000 ETM+ images in order to characterize global forest change.
Key to the study’s success was the collaboration between remote sensing scientists at the University of Maryland, who developed and tested models for processing and characterizing the Landsat data, and computer scientists at Google, who oversaw the implementation of the final models using Google’s Earth Engine (http://goo.gl/2QghDU
) computation platform.
To learn more details and see some of the results, visit the Google Research Blog (linked below), and be sure to tune in next Monday, November 18 to a live-streamed, online presentation and demonstration by Matt Hansen and colleagues from UMD, Google, USGS, NASA and the Moore Foundation:Live-stream Presentation: Mapping Global Forest Change
Live online presentation and demonstration, followed by Q&A
Monday, November 18, 2013, at 1pm EST, 10am PST
Link to live-streamed event: http://goo.gl/JbWWTk
Please submit questions here: http://goo.gl/rhxK5X