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News articles on remote sensing
Mongabay.com news articles on remote sensing in blog format. Updated regularly.
(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.
Poverty and corruption reduce effectiveness of rainforest parks
(07/09/2007) Poverty and corruption are linked to higher incidence of fire in tropical forest reserves, reports a new study published in the journal Ecological Applications. Poor, corrupt countries -- like Cambodia, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone -- have the least effective parks when measured in terms of the incidence of fire relative to surrounding "buffer" areas. The findings have significant implications for rainforest conservation efforts.
Rare and mysterious forests of Sulawesi 80% gone
(06/28/2007) Roughly 80 percent of Sulawesi's richest forests have been degraded and destroyed for agriculture, logging, and mining, reports a ground-breaking assessment of the Indonesian island's forests.
NASA monitors China's Three Gorges Dam
(06/13/2007) Some call it the eighth wonder of world. Others say it's the next Great Wall of China. Upon completion in 2009, the Three Gorges Dam along China's Yangtze River will be the world's largest hydroelectric power generator and one of the few man-made structures so enormous that it's actually visible to the naked eye from space. NASA's Landsat satellites have provided detailed, vivid views of the dam since construction began in 1994.
Google helps protect Amazon rainforest
(06/10/2007) Google is working with a indigenous tribe deep in the Amazon rainforest to protect their lands from illegal encroachment, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. For the first time, Google has confirmed details of the project. Working in conjuction with the Amazon conservation Team, Google Earth's technology is being used to monitor illegal mining and logging that threaten the lands of the Surui tribe in Brazil. Google is working with satellite providers to significantly improve image resolution in some of the most remote parts of the Amazon basin.
Amazon deforestation rates fall 89% for 2007
(06/08/2007) Deforestation rates fell by 89 percent in the Brazilian Amazon state of Mato Grosso for April 2007 compared with April 2006, according to the System Alert for Deforestation, an innovative deforestation monitoring program backed from Brazilian NGO Imazon. Mato Grosso, which has suffered some of the highest rates of deforestation of any state in the Brazilian Amazon, lost 2,268 square kilometers of forest between August 2006 and April 2007, a decline of 62 percent from the year earlier period when 5,968 square kilometers were cleared.
Can cattle ranchers and soy farmers save the Amazon?
(06/06/2007) John Cain Carter, a Texas rancher who moved to the heart of the Amazon 11 years ago and founded what is perhaps the most innovative organization working in the Amazon, Alianca da Terra, believes the only way to save the Amazon is through the market. Carter says that by giving producers incentives to reduce their impact on the forest, the market can succeed where conservation efforts have failed. What is most remarkable about Alianca's system is that it has the potential to be applied to any commodity anywhere in the world. That means palm oil in Borneo could be certified just as easily as sugar cane in Brazil or sheep in New Zealand. By addressing the supply chain, tracing agricultural products back to the specific fields where they were produced, the system offers perhaps the best market-based solution to combating deforestation. Combining these approaches with large-scale land conservation and scientific research offers what may be the best hope for saving the Amazon.
Glaciers speed up due to global warming
(06/05/2007) Antarctic glaciers are moving faster due to global warming, reports the British Antarctic Survey.
Globalization could save the Amazon rainforest
(06/03/2007) The Amazon basin is home to the world's largest rainforest, an ecosystem that supports perhaps 30 percent of the world's terrestrial species, stores vast amounts of carbon, and exerts considerable influence on global weather patterns and climate. Few would dispute that it is one of the planet's most important landscapes. Despite its scale, the Amazon is also one of the fastest changing ecosystems, largely as a result of human activities, including deforestation, forest fires, and, increasingly, climate change. Few people understand these impacts better than Dr. Daniel Nepstad, one of the world's foremost experts on the Amazon rainforest. Now head of the Woods Hole Research Center's Amazon program in Belem, Brazil, Nepstad has spent more than 23 years in the Amazon, studying subjects ranging from forest fires and forest management policy to sustainable development. Nepstad says the Amazon is presently at a point unlike any he's ever seen, one where there are unparalleled risks and opportunities. While he's hopeful about some of the trends, he knows the Amazon faces difficult and immediate challenges.
California-sized area of snow melt spotted in Antarctica
(05/16/2007) NASA has found clear evidence of a California-sized area of snow melting in west Antarctica in January 2005 in response to warm temperatures.
Remote sensing tools used to predict bird species richness
(05/14/2007) Scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland have taken a novel approach to studying biological diversity by making use of laser remote sensing (lidar). WHRC scientists examined the relationships between bird species richness and habitat metrics derived from lidar data acquired by aircraft. They then explored the efficacy of predicting bird richness and abundance based on these metrics.
Amazon rainforest locks up 11 years of CO2 emissions
(05/08/2007) The amount and distribution of above ground biomass (or the amount of carbon contained in vegetation) in the Amazon basin is largely unknown, making it difficult to estimate how much carbon dioxide is produced through deforestation and how much is sequestered through forest regrowth. To address this uncertainty, a team of scientists from Caltech, the Woods Hole Institute, and INPE (Brazil's space agency), have developed a new method to determine forest biomass using remote sensing and field plot measurements. The researchers say the work will help them better understand the role of Amazon rainforest in global climate change.
U.S. could offset 20% of emissions through reforestation of marginal lands
(05/03/2007) Reforesting marginal agricultural land could significantly slow the increase of carbon in the atmosphere reports a new study based on NASA data, though it would be no magic bullet in fighting global warming since temperate forests have been shown to increase regional temperatures by absorbing more sunlight. Still, reforestation has the potential to offer other ancillary benefits including watershed services and erosion control.
Bush seeks funding cuts for Earth monitoring satellites
(05/02/2007) The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) warned that environmental satellites responsible for monitoring Earth are endangered due to budget cuts and shifts in spending towards military and human space flight programs.
Madagascar' forests are recovering
(05/02/2007) Some of Madagascar's most biologically rich forests appear to be recovering according to research published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. The study also offers new insight in the forces behind deforestation and the social context of reforestation efforts.
Jumbo squid and sperm whales tagged
(03/08/2007) Scientists have simulatenously tagged sperm whales and jumbo squid off Mexico's Pacific coast, allowing them to be tracked by satellite even as they dive to depths exceeding 3000 feet. Details of the effort are published in in the March 12 edition of the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS).
2006 Indonesian forest fires worst since 1998
(03/01/2007) NASA has linked el Nino to the worst fires in Indonesia since the 1997-1998 conflagration that burned nearly 25 million acres (10 million hectares) of land across the country.
New maps reveal causes of Amazon deforestation
(01/26/2007) Brazil's National Statistics Office (IBGE) released a set of maps showing how farmers are converting the Amazon rainforest into cattle pasture and soybean farms. The maps show for the first time the impact of deforestation and agricultural expansion on the Amazon rainforest, according to the agency.
Satellite imagery to be used to detect illegal logging, determine sustainability
(12/21/2006) A new project aims to use advanced satellite imagery to monitor illegal logging activities and help certify the sustainability of timber harvesting in some of the world's most remote forests. The effort could reduce the cost of forest management and certification, while helping to crack down on illicit tree-felling.
African river basins are drying up says NASA
(12/13/2006) New satellite data from NASA show that the Mississippi and Colorado River basins are storing more water over the past five years, while the Congo, Zambezi and Nile basins are drying.
Amazon Indians use Google Earth, GPS to protect forest home
(11/15/2006) Deep in the most remote jungles of South America, Amazon Indians are using Google Earth, Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping, and other technologies to protect their fast-dwindling home. Tribes in Suriname, Brazil, and Colombia are combining their traditional knowledge of the rainforest with Western technology to conserve forests and maintain ties to their history and cultural traditions, which include profound knowledge of the forest ecosystem and medicinal plants. Helping them is the Amazon conservation Team (ACT), a nonprofit organization working with indigenous people to conserve biodiversity, health, and culture in South American rainforests.
Ocean phytoplankton may influence the formation of clouds, affect global warming
(11/07/2006) Atmospheric scientists have reported a new and potentially important mechanism by which chemical emissions from ocean phytoplankton may influence the formation of clouds that reflect sunlight away from our planet. Discovery of the new link between clouds and the biosphere grew out of efforts to explain increased cloud cover observed over an area of the Southern Ocean where a large bloom of phytoplankton was occurring. Based on satellite data, the researchers hypothesized that airborne particles produced by oxidation of the chemical isoprene -- which is emitted by the phytoplankton -- may have contributed to a doubling of cloud droplet concentrations seen over a large area of ocean off the eastern coast of South America.
Amazon deforestation rate plunges 41 percent
(10/27/2006) Today the Brazilian government announced a sharp drop in Amazon deforestation. Forest loss for the 2005-2006 year was 13,100 square kilometers (5,057 square miles) of rainforest, down more than 40 percent from last year. The figure is the lowest since 1991 when 11,130 square kilometers (4,258 square miles) of forest were lost. Deforestation peaked in 1995 when 29,059 square kilometers (11,219 square miles) of forest were cut. Deforestation has plunged by almost 50 percent since 2004. Falling commodity prices, increased enforcement efforts, and government conservation initiatives are credited for the drop. "We aggressively increased enforcement of environmental laws in the past years and it has worked," Joao Paulo Capobianco, Brazil's minister-secretary of biodiversity and forests, told the Associated Press.
Satellite photo of Dubai's artificial islands, The World and the Palms
(10/25/2006) NASA released new images showing artificial islands being constructed in Dubai, a city-state in the United Arab Emirates. The sand islands, which are the largest human-made islands in the world, are being built at an incredible cost in both monetary and environmental terms. Two of the islands -- Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Jumeirah -- resemble encircled palm trees, while "The World" island will resemble a world map once completed, though this will only be apparent from airplaces and aerial photos.
Tremendous loss of ice in Greenland finds new NASA study
(10/19/2006) For the first time NASA scientists have confirmed that Greenland's ice sheet is shrinking. Using a new remote sensing technique that reveals regional changes in the weight of the massive ice sheet across the entire continent, researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center found that Greenland suffered a net loss of 25 cubic miles (101 gigatons) of ice per year between 2003 and 2005.
Malaysia adopts new remote sensing technology to detect illegal forest burning
(10/16/2006) Last month Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Sri Najib Tun Razak announced that Malaysia will use a new remote sensing technology to detect illegal logging and forest fires in the country.
Weak El Nino returns to the Pacific
(10/05/2006) NASA satellite data indicates El Nino has returned to the tropical Pacific Ocean, although in a relatively weak condition that may not persist and is currently much less intense than the last major El Niño episode in 1997-1998.
Borneo and Sumatra burn as forest fires rage
(10/05/2006) Forest fires are again buring across Borneo and Sumatra (Indonesia) according to satellite images released this week by NASA.
Ozone loss hits record in 2006
(10/02/2006) The European Space Agency (ESA) said that ozone loss in Antarctica hit a record in 2006. ESA reports that ozone measurements made by the Envisat satellite showed the ozone loss of 40 million tons of ozone, a level exceeding the previous record ozone loss of about 39 million tonnes for 2000.
Greenland's ice continues to melt
(09/20/2006) Data gathered by a pair of NASA satellites orbiting Earth show Greenland continued to lose ice mass at a significant rate through April 2006, and that the rate of loss is accelerating, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder study.
Arctic ice hole larger than Britain forms, shocks scientists
(09/20/2006) European Space Agency satellite images acquired from 23 to 25 August 2006 have shown for the first time dramatic openings larger than the size of the British Isles in the Arctic's perennial sea ice pack north of Svalbard, and extending into the Russian Arctic all the way to the North Pole. The agency says the findings are shocking to scientists. 'If this anomaly trend continues, the North-East Passage or 'Northern Sea Route' between Europe and Asia will be open over longer intervals of time, and it is conceivable we might see attempts at sailing around the world directly across the summer Arctic Ocean within the next 10-20 years,' said Mark Drinkwater, a scientist with ESA.
Greenland's ice melting rapidly
(08/10/2006) A new analysis of data from twin satellites has revealed that the melting of Greenland's ice sheet has increased dramatically in the past few years, with much of the loss occurring primarily along one shoreline potentially affecting weather in Western Europe.
NASA satellite images key to coral reef survey
(07/31/2006) A first-of-its-kind survey of how well the world's coral reefs are being protected was made possible by a unique collection of NASA views from space.
Africa's deforestation rate may be underestimated
(06/22/2006) Africa's deforestation rate may be underestimated by satellite imagery according to a researcher at the University of Wisconsin. Holly Gibbs, a Ph.D. candidate at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin, presented her findings at a conservation conference held in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar.
New satellite maps show forest loss and degradation
(03/22/2006) Greenpeace today launched a set of satellite maps showing the world's remaining extent of "intact forests", the planet's most biodiverse ecosystems.
Amazon rainforest grows fastest during dry season
(03/21/2006) New research out of the University of Arizona has found that the Amazon rainforest grows fastest during the dry season. The finding counters the convention in other ecosystems where peak plant growth generally occurs during the rainy season.
Satellite image of floods in Northern California
(01/06/2006) Northern California ushered in 2006 with a series of major storms that inundated the area and left many towns awash in water, mud, and debris.
Satellite image of fires in Oklahoma and Texas
(01/02/2006) Drought, high temperatures, and strong winds combined with holiday fireworks, trash fires, and careless cigarettes to create a disaster in parts of Texas and Oklahoma in late December 2005.
Greenland ice cap melting faster finds NASA
(12/26/2005) In the first direct, comprehensive mass survey of the entire Greenland ice sheet, scientists using data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) have measured a significant decrease in the mass of the Greenland ice cap. Grace is a satellite mission that measures movement in Earth's mass.
Ancient water supply of Sahara at risk, satellite monitoring helps in water management
(12/19/2005) During the last Ice Age, the Sahara was savannah with rivers, lakes and plentiful rains. Over the past 10,000 years that landscape changed, but the rains from that period progressively percolated beneath the ground to be collected in aquifers. Today these aquifers are an important source of water for irrigating agriculture and supporting human populations in the area.
Satellites map forests of Europe for Kyoto Protocol monitoring
(11/14/2005) A prototype service utilising satellites for mapping forests to aid compliance with the Kyoto Protocol has been endorsed by end users from European countries -- one environmental ministry representative called the baseline carbon stock information provided a "goldmine".
Sharks tracked by satellite
(10/09/2005) Electronic tags broadcasting from the dorsal fins of salmon sharks reveal that these top predators migrate from the glacial waters of Alaska to the warm seas off Hawaii, according to a new study in the journal Science.
Satellite monitors health of coral reefs
(10/05/2005) Australian researchers have found Envisat's MERIS sensor can detect coral bleaching down to ten metres deep. This means Envisat could potentially monitor impacted coral reefs worldwide on a twice-weekly basis.
NASA satellites detect continuing decline in Arctic sea ice
(10/01/2005) Researchers from NASA, the National Snow and Ice Data Center and others using satellite data have detected a significant loss in Arctic sea ice this year.
European Space Agency analyzes Hurricane Rita
(09/23/2005) As Hurricane Rita entered the Gulf of Mexico, ESA's Envisat satellite's radar was able to pierce through swirling clouds to directly show how the storm churns the sea surface. This image has then been used to derive Rita's wind field speeds.
NASA Satellite Data Used to Assess Amazon Deforestation
(09/15/2005) The Amazon, a vast tropical forest stretching across South America, is so large that is virtually impossible to study the evolving landscapes within the basin without the use of satellites. Scientists have used satellite imagery of the Amazon for more than 30 years to seek answers about this diverse ecosystem and the patterns and processes of land cover change. This technology continues to advance and a new study shows that NASA satellite images can allow scientists to more quickly and accurately assess deforestation in the Amazon.
NASA offers assistance to hurricane victims
(09/07/2005) NASA science instruments and Earth-orbiting satellites are providing detailed insight about the environmental impact caused by Hurricane Katrina. Images and data are helping characterize the extent of flooding; damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure; and potential hazards caused by the storm and its aftermath.
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