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New satellite techniques for looking at climate change
Date:1/30/2009

More than 200 scientists from around the world have attended the weeklong POLinSAR 2009 workshop hosted at ESRIN, ESA's Earth Observation centre in Frascati, Italy. Discussions among the participants include new techniques for providing vital information on our planet that could help to combat global warming through carbon accounting, wetland preservation and improve climate models.

Using the novel polarimetric mode of the PALSAR synthetic aperture radar (SAR) aboard Japan's ALOS satellite, Dr Shane Cloude of the UK-based AEL Consultants has mapped the biomass of Scotland's forests. This marks the first time biomass data has been extracted over a large area using this sensor mode.

Forests are one of the most significant onshore stores of carbon, absorbing carbon dioxide that would otherwise increase global warming. Mapping biomass a quantitative estimate of the organic material in a forest is important because it allows scientists to determine the forest's capacity to store carbon.

This information will assist politicians and non-governmental organisations in planning strategies for combating global warming through international monitoring and carbon sequestering.

"Carbon trading is upon us, which means there is going to be a value to carbon and countries will be able to offset their emissions against carbon which is stored in their forests, for example," Cloude explained. "There is going to be a need for a third party to assess or validate the estimates given by countries as well to monitor any changes in them such as deforestation or degradation."

"Since one of the important variables for predicting climate change is to know what the balance between carbon sinks and sources will be, this kind of information can be fed directly into models to help improve predictions of climate change," he said.

Cloude used the polarimetric mode with ALOS radar data from April to June 2007 to produce the biomass map, whi
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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