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Carnegie debuts revolutionary biosphere mapping capability at AGU
Date:12/4/2012

ging in scale from individual branches to whole canopies among millions of rainforest trees.

Another CAO study led by Mark Higgins considered how Panamanian forests are patterned by the unique geology of the region. The results help to explain why Panamanian ecosystems remain some of the most biologically diverse in Central America. And a report by Stanford graduate student Dana Chadwick used AToMS to examine the terrain hidden beneath the Amazon rainforest canopy. Three-dimensional mapping revealed how the Amazon environment promotes the co-existence of so many rainforest species.

Chadwick summed it up: "It's like taking an x-ray of an entire landscape, plant by plant, and each tiny hill. We can see how just a one or two foot change in ground elevation can create a new habitat for rainforest species, with measurable effects on the rainforest biomass."

Other topics covered in the ten reports presented at the conference range from how California Mediterranean ecosystems are assembled, to the important role that streams play in helping forests to store global-warming gases such as carbon dioxide.

Woody Turner, NASA Program Scientist for Biological Diversity commented, "The combination of an imaging spectrometer and a laser scanning instrument inside CAO AToMS is proving to be an ideal solution to the challenge of remotely sensing biodiversity. AToMS gives uson one airborne platforminstruments capable of simultaneously parsing the composition, function, and structure of ecosystems."

Asner agreed: "Probably the most profound scientific advances revolve around directly measuring biodiversity in some of the most critically endangered regions of our planet."

He specifically pointed to the reports led by Claire Baldeck and Jean-Baptiste Fret, two Carnegie scientists working with the airborne technology to map plant diversity in African savannas and Amazonian rainforests. Baldeck reported on the holy grail of eco
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Contact: Greg Asner
gpa@carnegiescience.edu
650-380-2828
Carnegie Institution
Source:Eurekalert  

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