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NASA satellite data provides rapid analysis of Amazon deforestation

iting finding of this study is that it shows MODIS can permit regional analyses of land cover in a matter of days, a substantial reduction in effort in comparison to the months now required with Landsat," said Douglas Morton, scientist at the University of Maryland-College Park and lead author of the new study.

Deforestation rates in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America have remained constant or have increased over the past two decades, altering global carbon and climate while elevating the need for frequent and accurate assessment of forest loss. In the Brazilian Amazon alone, where the growth of cattle ranching and cropland agriculture are the primary causes of forest clearing, annual clear-cutting and burning of forests cover about 7,700 square miles or about the area of New Jersey.

This study found a marked trend of larger and more extensive deforestation events between 2001 and 2004 in Mato Grosso State, Brazil, which was later confirmed on the ground. Information like this is so valuable to scientists because the Amazon literally drives weather systems around the world.

Information like this is so valuable to scientists because the Amazon literally drives weather systems around the world. The tropics receive two-thirds of the world's rainfall, and when it rains, water changes from liquid to vapor and back again, storing and releasing heat energy in the process. With so much rainfall, an incredible amount of heat is released into the atmosphere - making the tropics the Earth's primary source of heat redistribution. And, because of the Amazon's location, any sort of weather hiccup from the area could signal serious changes for the rest of the world like droughts and severe storms.

Global climate is also affected when Amazon burning practices to clear fields for farming result in large fires that create air pollution and release tiny particles, known as aerosols. Aerosols can both heat and cool the air, depending on
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Source:NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office


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