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NASA satellite data provides rapid analysis of Amazon deforestation

Editor : Be sure to check out all the satellite images showing areas of deforestation on the NASA website

The Amazon, a vast tropical forest stretching across South America, is so large that if you were to take pictures of the region with optical photographs, it would take about ten years to get a composite image of the area. To make matters worse, its landscape is constantly evolving. So, scientists have learned to seek answers about this fragile ecosystem with the help of powerful eyes above - satellites.

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.

Researchers from the University of Maryland-College Park, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) of Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, and South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D., compared multiple years of data from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites to data collected from the high-resolution Landsat satellite. They found that MODIS images can rapidly and reliably detect changes in Amazon land cover.

Unlike MODIS data, analyses of high spatial resolution data demand extensive storage and processing requirements. And, in tropical forest regions, image quality is often reduced by cloud cover and infrequent coverage of high-resolution images. But MODIS obtains images of the Amazon up to four times per day and evaluations of the quality of data are provided with the image, clearly marking areas of clouds, water, or high aerosols. These impacts are further minimized with daily composites created through the combination of individual images.

While high resolution imagery is still needed when estimating the total area of deforestation or when identifying small clearings, "the most exc
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Source:NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office


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