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Flights over forest give scientists aerial view of climate change

A team from the GeoSciences department at The University of Edinburgh, lead by Dr Caroline Nichol, has launched a programme to assess how much carbon dioxide boreal forests are absorbing. These are located around the Arctic Circle and their size is comparable to Amazon rainforests.

The University’s own fuel-efficient airplane, with two-people on board, will fly above this forest to acquire high-resolution images. Other sensors will collect data about the absorption of CO2 by the trees. The aerial observation combined with NASA satellite data will be used to analyse the role of Earth’s coldest forest on alleviation of climate change. The result will definitely lead to a better understanding of efficiency of storage of CO2 by boreal forests and potentially help to limit the increase of atmospheric CO2.

Dr Caroline Nichols said: “Combining aircraft and satellite data relating to the forest’s canopy gives us much more accurate results, much more quickly, and over a wider area than would get from ground-based measurements alone.”

The project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and will be carried out with the University of Helsinki and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre.

Aldona Kutkowska


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