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News articles on remote sensing
Mongabay.com news articles on remote sensing in blog format. Updated regularly.
(10/15/2008) Brazil will have high resolution imagery for 86 percent of its Amazon territory by the end of the year, according to Reuters. The images will help the country protect the Amazon rainforest and prosecute alleged environmental crimes, including illegal logging and agricultural expansion.
Rare Amur leopard photographed for the first time with kill
(10/08/2008) With just over thirty individuals left, every photograph of an Amur leopard in the wild is news. But recently released photos are the first to show an Amur leopard at a livestock kill, making them even more important. According to an article from Wildlife Alliance, on September 8th a staff member of the Gamov sika deer farm contacted Eugene Stoma with news about an Amur leopard that had entered the farm and killed three deer. Stoma is the leader of an anti-poaching squad that protects the remaining leopards. After locating the leopard’s kill, Stoma and his team placed camera traps around the kill, hoping the leopard would return. The leopard did return yielding three photos from various angles.
Arctic sea ice falls to second lowest on record
(09/16/2008) Arctic sea ice retreated to the second lowest level on record but remains about 9 percent above the low set last September, reports the NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.
NASA: Sea ice melt opens the Northwest and Northeast Passage
(09/09/2008) An image released by NASA shows that Arctic sea ice has retreated to the point where both the Northwest Passage around North America and the Northern Sea Route around Russia are open simultaneously. The occurrence marks the first time on record that both passages have been open.
Independent of climate, forest cover in southern Amazon may fall to 20% by 2016
(09/03/2008) Forest cover in the "Arc of Deforestation" of southern Amazonia will decline to around 20 percent 2016 due to continued logging and conversion of forests for cattle pasture and soy farms, report researchers writing in the journal Environmental Conservation. Analyzing high resolution satellite data from 1984 through 2004 for the Alta Floresta region in northern Mato Grosso, Fernanda Michalski, Carlos Peres and Iain Lake of the University of East Anglia found that forest cover declined from from 91.1 percent to 41.7 percent between 1984 and 2004. They note that while the deforestation rate has slowed to around 2 percent per year since peaking at more than 8 percent annually in late 1980s to mid-1990s, renewed expansion of road networks will enable loggers to increasingly exploit remaining forests, leading to degradation and likely eventual conversion for agricultural use. Overall Michalski and colleagues forecast that forest cover in Alta Floresta will fall to 21 percent by 2016, a decline of 77 percent since 1984.
Amazon deforestation jumps 69% in 2008
(08/31/2008) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased 69 percent in the past 12 months as high commodity prices have driven forest conversion for ranches and cropland, according to preliminary figures released by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The increase comes after three consecutive years of declining deforestation in Brazil.
Haze risk returns as fires increase in Indonesia
(08/26/2008) The number of forest fires burning in Indonesia is increasing, raising concerns for the potential return of choking haze to the region.
Google Earth reveals cattle have a built-in compass
(08/25/2008) Cattle, along with grazing deer, tend to align themselves with the Earth's magnetic field lines, in a north-south direction, report researchers writing in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The finding suggests that cows seem to have a built-in magnetic compass.
NASA images reveal two massive glaciers breaking apart in Greenland
(08/22/2008) Two of Greenland's largest glaciers are breaking up report researchers monitoring NASA satellite images.
Smoke from Amazon fires reduces local rainfall
(08/14/2008) Smoke released by fires set to clear the Amazon rainforest inhibit the formation of clouds, thereby reducing rainfall, report researchers writing in the journal Science. The study provides clues on how aerosols from human activity influence cloud cover and ultimately affect climate.
NASA study shows global warming will diminish rainfall in East Africa, worsening hunger
(08/06/2008) A new NASA-backed study has found a link between a warming Indian Ocean and reduced rainfall in eastern and southern Africa. The results suggest that rising sea temperatures could exacerbate food problems in some of the continent's most famine-prone regions.
New mapping system shows how detailed climate changes will affect species
(08/06/2008) A new computer simulation from the Nature Conservancy shows greater detail than ever before on how climate change will affect the world's biodiversity, according to an article in New Scientist. In worst case scenarios—using the example of Bengal tigers in Sundarbans mangrove forest—the article's author, Peter Aldhous, writes that some species will be forced into a "condemned cell", literally having no-where to go while their region becomes inhabitable.
Often overlooked, small wild cats are important and in trouble
(08/05/2008) While often over-shadowed by their larger and better-known relatives like lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars, small cats are important indicators of the health of an ecosystem, says a leading small cat expert who uses camera traps extensively to document and monitor mammals in the wild. Dr Jim Sanderson, a scientist with the Small Cat Conservation Alliance and Conservation International, is working to save some of the world's rarest cats, including the Andean cat and Guigna of South America and the bay, flat-headed, and marbled cats of Southeast Asia. In the process Sanderson has captured on film some of the planet's least seen animals, including some species that have never before been photographed. He has also found that despite widespread criticism, some corporate entities are effectively protecting remote wilderness areas.
Developing the world's most sophisticated program for mapping endangered species
(08/04/2008) It was big news in April when a comprehensive map of Madagascar's rich and unique biodiversity was unveiled. The project managed to map ranges of 2,315 species across an island larger than France. Such detailed mapping could not have happened without the aid of Steve Phillips. A researcher at AT&T, Phillips developed the software that made such detailed and expansive mapping possible.
Amazon deforestation forecast for 2008 revised downward
(07/17/2008) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell sharply in the month of May (1,096 square kilometers) compared to May a year-ago (1,222 square kilometers), according to preliminary satellite data announced by the country's environment minister on Tuesday. Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc said a preliminary analysis by the government's National Space Research Institute (INPE) showed 1,096 square kilometers (423 square miles) of rain forest were cut down in May, down from 1,123 square kilometers (434 square miles) in April.
First carbon map of America released by NASA
(07/15/2008) For the first time, one can have a whole view of America's carbon output: region by region, city by city. The Vulcan Project has undertaken a holistic inventory—including electricity, heat, transportation, and industry—of local carbon emissions across the nation to create the first carbon map of America. Texas leads the fifty states, and the county of Harris, Texas (encompassing Houston) records the nation's largest emissions by county. Although Texas is second in population after California, its massive industry puts it over the top.
Rainforest destruction becomes industry-driven, concentrated geographically
(06/30/2008) New analysis of global deforestation reveals that the bulk of tropical forest loss is occurring in a small number of countries. The research — published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) — shows that Brazil accounts for nearly half of global deforestation, nearly four times that of the next highest country, Indonesia, which makes up about an eighth of worldwide forest clearing.
New Google Earth layer offers insight on global deforestation
(06/15/2008) A new Google Earth KML file presents a geographical account of global deforestation.
Indigenous peoples of Congo map their forests with GPS in an effort to save them
(04/13/2008) This week over five hundred villagers in the Democratic Republic of Congo's rainforest will employ GPS technology to map their forests in an effort to preserve their territory from logging companies.
Fire monitoring by satellite becomes key conservation tool
(03/26/2008) Remote sensing is increasingly used as a tool for conservation management. Beyond traditional satellite imagery popularized by Google Earth, new sensing applications are allowing researchers located anywhere in the world to track fires, illegal logging and mining, and deforestation in some of Earth's most isolated regions using a computer or handheld device. The Fire Alert System is one example of an application that is harnessing the power of satellites to deliver key data to conservation managers. Developed by Madagascar's ministry of Environment, the International Resources Group, conservation International using data from the University of Maryland and NASA, the Fire Alert System enables near real-time monitoring of fires anywhere on the island of Madagascar, a hotspot of biological diversity. The system, which sends subscribers regular email alerts on newly-detected burning, will eventually be expanded to include all the world's protected areas, allowing managers to detect not only fires but potentially related activities like road building, logging, and even hunting.
Satellite could help reindeer in the Arctic
(03/17/2008) Researchers have used satellite data to detect Arctic conditions that cause mass starvation of hoofed animals depended on by native peoples. Some 20,000 musk oxen died on Canada's far-northern Banks Island because of such conditions during the winter several years ago. Yet, their deaths went unnoticed until the next spring. The new satellite-detection method could provide an early warning to native people, giving them a realistic chance of getting food to herds to prevent mass starvation.
Accurate forest data will help guide climate policy
(03/10/2008) As forests are increasingly seen as a means for fighting climate change, proper forest assessment becomes all the more important. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) says it will call on member states to provide "accurate data". FAO data has been criticized by analysts for offering an incomplete picture of forest cover and trends.
'CAT scan' shows Hawaiian forests invaded by alien species
(03/03/2008) Invasive plant species are altering the ecology of Hawaiian rain forests, reports a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Complete map of world forests to help REDD carbon trading initiative
(02/27/2008) Policymakers, conservationists and scientists have high hopes that REDD, a mechanism for compensating countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, will spur a massive flow of funds to tropical countries, helping preserve rainforests and delivering economic benefits to impoverished rural communities. To date, one of the biggest hurdles for the initiative has been establishing a baseline for deforestation rates -- in order to compensate countries for "avoided deforestation" it first must be known how much forest the country has been losing on a historical basis. Until now, with some notable exceptions, this data was based largely on spotty satellite assessment and surveys of national forestry departments by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization.
NASA: warming is causing Greenland ice to melt faster than expected
(02/21/2008) Warming air temperatures are causing Greenland's ice sheet to melt faster than previously anticipated, reported NASA on Wednesday. Though unlikely, the complete melting of Greenland's ice sheet would raise global sea level by 23 feet.
Only 4% of the ocean is pristine according to first oceanic map of human-impact
(02/14/2008) There is a much used adage regarding the ocean that goes something like this: we know more about our solar system than our ocean. Whether or not one believes this to be true (less than 5% of the ocean has been explored), a group of over twenty researchers, by agglomerating the available information on the oceans, have created a large-scale image of the ocean's health.
NASA: Rain falls more often during the week than weekends
(02/04/2008) Storms in the southeastern United States generate more rainfall during the work week than on weekends, report NASA scientists. The pattern can be attributed to lower atmospheric pollution from humans on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Atmospheric particulates have been linked to rainfall.
Is tropical deforestation really occurring?
(01/08/2008) New assessment suggests global deforestation data from the U.N. is deeply flawed and without better monitoring it is impossible to know whether net forest cover in the tropics is expanding or declining.
New satellite system will penetrate clouds to track deforestation
(12/05/2007) Satellite monitoring will play a critical role in any agreement that compensates tropical countries for preserving their forests, such as "Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" (REDD) mechanisms currently under discussion at UN climate talks in Bali. Released Tuesday, a new study, "New Eyes in the Sky: Cloud-Free Tropical Forest Monitoring for REDD with the Japanese Advanced Land Observation Satellite (ALOS)", details significant advancements in the field of remote sensing of forests.
Historical records of Atlantic hurricanes are accurate says study
(11/28/2007) Counting tropical storms that occurred before the advent of aircraft and satellites relies on ships logs and hurricane landfalls, making many believe that the numbers of historic tropical storms in the Atlantic are seriously undercounted. However, a statistical model based on the climate factors that influence Atlantic tropical storm activity shows that the estimates currently used are only slightly below modeled numbers and indicate that the numbers of tropical storms in the recent past are increasing, according to researchers.
Ground-breaking Amazon rainforest imagery will help monitor deforestation
(11/27/2007) Scientists have developed a ground-breaking high resolution snapshot of 400,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest. The work will help researchers remotely monitor deforestation, according to the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC).
NASA releases high-resolution map of Antarctica
(11/27/2007) A team of researchers from NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Science Foundation and the British Antarctic Survey today unveiled a high resolution, true-color map of Antarctica. The map is expected to help scientists better understand changes occurring on the icy continent.
Carbon credits for forest conservation concept faces challenges
(11/27/2007) While environmentalists, scientists, development exports, and policymakers across the political spectrum are ethusiastic about the idea of offsetting carbon emissions by preventing deforestation (a concept known as "avoided deforestation" or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)), the concept still faces many challenges, especially in implementation.
NASA: Arctic Ocean circulation reversal not due to global warming
(11/13/2007) A study published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that weakening of the Arctic Oscillation results from a cyclical process rather than climate change. The results suggest not all the large changes seen in Arctic climate in recent years are a result of long-term trends associated with global warming.
Madagascar fires mapped with Google Earth in real-time
(10/29/2007) Every year as much as one-third of Madagascar, one of the planet's most biodiverse islands, goes up in flames. Now a new tool gives scientists the ability to monitor and track Madagascar's fires in real-time through the Internet.
Google Earth adds endangered species info
(10/24/2007) Google Earth users can now learn about 100 of the world's most endangered species through a new KML developed by the Zoological Society of London's EDGE of Existence program.
Amazon rainforest burning "worst" in memory
(10/16/2007) Fires continue to rage in the Amazon, according to local reports. John Cain Carter, a rancher who runs Alianca da Terra, an environmental accountability group for agricultural operators, says that the fires are the worst he has ever seen in the region. "I have never seen fires this bad," he told mongabay.com. "The fires are even worse than in 1998's El Nino event." NASA satellite images released at the end of September confirm widespread burning in the Amazon state of Mato Grosso.
Land-clearing fires send smoke across Argentina, Paraguay
(09/11/2007) Thousands of fires likely set for land-clearing are sending thick smoke over southern South America, reports NASA.
Global warming to cause more severe thunderstorms, reports NASA
(08/31/2007) Global warming will increase the incidence of severe storms and tornados, report NASA scientists.
Peru's deforestation rate surged in 2005
(08/30/2007) Peru's deforestation rates surged in 2005, according to new analysis published in the journal Science.
NASA admits to error in global warming data
(08/17/2007) NASA has admitted to a data error that skewed temperatures since 2000.
Amazon deforestation in Brazil falls 29% for 2007
(08/13/2007) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell 29 percent for the 2006-2007 year, compared with the prior period. The loss of 3,863 square miles (10,010 square kilometers) of rainforest was the lowest since the Brazilian government started tracking deforestation on a yearly basis in 1988.
Failing water supply destroyed lost city of Angkor Wat
(08/13/2007) The ancient city of Angkor in Cambodia was larger in extent than previously thought and fed by a single water system, according to a new map published by an international team of researchers. The study, published in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, suggests that the urban settlement sustained an elaborate water management network extending over more than 1,0000 square kilometers.
Scientists: Newsweek Erred in Global Warming Coverage
(08/12/2007) A statement from the University of Alabama argues that a recent Newsweek cover story on climate change made two important mistakes.
Amazon deforestation rate falls to lowest on record
(08/10/2007) Deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon for the previous year were the lowest on record, according to preliminary figures released by INPE, Brazil's National Institute of Space Research.
Experts: parks effectively protect rainforest in Peru
(08/09/2007) High-resolution satellite monitoring of the Amazon rainforest in Peru shows that land-use and conservation policies have had a measurable impact on deforestation rates. The research is published in the August 9, 2007, on-line edition of Science Express.
Wild parrots tracked by satellite for the first time
(08/06/2007) Researchers are now tracking wild parrots from space.
Australia funds first global deforestation monitoring system
(07/23/2007) At a High Level Meeting on Forests and Climate being held in Sydney, Australia today announced a series of measures to slow deforestation and fight global warming.
Melting glaciers and ice cap will drive sea level rise
(07/19/2007) Melting glaciers and ice caps will contribute more to global sea level rise this century than the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, reports a study published in the current issue of Science.
NASA images show expansion of logging in Congo rainforest
(07/15/2007) New high resolution images of logging roads in the Congo region of Africa are helping researchers understand the expansion of industrial logging in Central Africa.
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