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LIDAR Map Shows Height of Earth's Forests

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the for-tax-purposes dept.

NASA 47

Hkibtimes writes about a recently released map of the Earth's forests. From the article: "A group of scientists from NASA and the University of Maryland have created a unique map that shows the heights of the Earth's forests. The map ... has been created using 2.5 million carefully screened and globally distributed laser pulse measurements sent from space."

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First post (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105387)

http://xkcd.com/1019/

Re:First post (1)

rush,overlord,rush! (1995452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105443)

"0 Full 0 Abbreviated 1 Hidden". u'll not get paid.

Re:First post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105561)

Read the hover "alt" text... That's why you gotta vote it up man. I need my monies...

Re:First post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39107141)

Read the hover "alt" text... That's why you gotta vote it up man. I need my monies...

Modded you down, suck it Anon. :)

This is Slashdot (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105465)

What is this "peer consensus" thing of which you speak?

Re:This is Slashdot (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105767)

What is this "peer consensus" thing of which you speak?

This is slashdot. You know, it thing where lots of people get together and decide as a group the thing they want to believe in, which is usually factually wrong, unsubstantiated in any way, or just flat out stupid. Its more commonly known as a cluster fuck.

Re:First post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39107231)

Nobody cares if you got the first post, fuck off.

Lasers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105503)

Shooting forests with lasers from space? I think we now know who is responsible for both the recent crop of large scale forest fires and global warming as a whole.

Re:Lasers? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105525)

Yes, but can we make popcorn with one?

Re:Lasers? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105555)

Yes, but can we make popcorn with one?

No, you need a laser on a B-1 bomber to make popcorn.

Re:Lasers? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105739)

Is the plate glass window required?

Re:Lasers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106077)

No B-1 necessary. Project Crossbow, Doc Hathaway's Victorian house, Val Kilmer, and Kent "Let me have it!" Tor are all that is needed for popcorn.

Re:Lasers? (0)

arielCo (995647) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105541)

SPACE SHARKS??!! OMG WE'RE DOOMED!!

(Now that we've got that one out of the way, we're back to our regular discussion)

Google Earth (5, Interesting)

Cinnaman (954100) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105523)

When can we get height data with good enough resolution to show individual trees and buildings?

Re:Google Earth (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105635)

You need 1m posting or better lidar data to get the individual trees and buildings. For the State of North Carolina, which was one of the first states with complete lidar coverage ( for floodplain mapping purposes), 1/3 of the state was flown at -12m posting distance and 2/3 was flown at 5m posting distance , Even at this relatively coarse resolution, there are about 26 billion x,y,z points for the State data set. You can process this as a single file using GRASS GIS or LAStools in a couple of days on a 2Ghz cpu ( single threaded). Consider that 1 m posting gives you 25 times the data points as 5 m posting and pretty soon you are talking about interesting data set sizes.
 

Re:Google Earth (2)

sgtstein (1219216) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105793)

Oh, so THAT is why our GIS analysts are wanting a new 100TB Backblaze storage pod and dedicated servers. Thanks for the info!

Re:Google Earth (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105955)

You're not a very good geek. There doesn't have to be a reason to get new hardware like that...

Re:Google Earth (2)

xded (1046894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106345)

From TFA:

The researchers augmented the ICESat data with other types of data to compensate for the sparse lidar data, the effects of topography and cloud cover. These included estimates of the percentage of global tree cover from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA's Terra satellite, elevation data from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, and temperature and precipitation maps from NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and the WorldClim database.

From a video with a Google Earth overlay [nasa.gov] you can find on NASA's ICESat mission website, the points from a single pass look more like 100 m apart.

Re:Google Earth (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39107773)

Very close, MODIS (Terra) resolution is ~90m if I remember right. SRTM is 3 arc-sec (~90m latitude) 60N-60S but 1" (~30m latitude, same as LANDSAT) over the USA. In reality it's only very reliable at 90m though.

(props to Prof Mitasova @ NCSU!)

Re:Google Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106079)

When can we get height data with good enough resolution to show individual trees and buildings?

Lidar has been in use for highly detailed mapping for quite some time, by both public and private users... with the detail you are looking for.
But: The data needs to be collected, processed, and served.
This is simply a large scale low density application... but very cool!

Re:Google Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106129)

Google the SRTM - Shuttle Radar Tomography Mission if you are interested in this. Stated resolution is 30 m but in my experience you can discriminate down to a few meters in certain areas.

Hey Faggots (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105613)

Hey Faggots,

My name is Anonymous Corward, and I hate every single one of you. All of you are fat, retarded, no-lifes who spend every second of their day reading at stupid ass posts. You are everything bad in the world. Honestly, have any of you ever gotten any pussy? I mean, I guess it's fun making snarky remarks because of your own insecurities, but you all take to a whole new level. This is even worse than jerking off to my little pony.

Don't be a stranger. Just hit me with your best shot. I'm pretty much perfect. I've got excellent karma, all achievements unlocked. How many slashdot friends have you got? I also get straight +5 mods, and have a banging hot cowboy Neil (He just blew me; Shit was SO cash). You are all faggots who should just kill yourselves. Thanks for listening.

Re:Hey Faggots (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105747)

Oh god. The cancer is spilling over.

What happened to New Zealand? (2, Insightful)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105717)

My whole country seems to have been missed (you insensitive clods!). And we're pretty much all forest down here....

Re:What happened to New Zealand? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105773)

Middle Earth doesn't count. Go fuck a hobbit or something.

Re:What happened to New Zealand? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106915)

Middle Earth doesn't count. Go fuck a hobbit or something.

They are called little people you insensitive clod.

Re:What happened to New Zealand? (3, Informative)

youngone (975102) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105909)

Yeah, I noticed that too. They've also lumped us in with Australia in the article as having very tall eucalyptus forests, whcih we don't really have. (Apart from the odd commercial forest). Maybe they mean Southern Beech: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothofagus_fusca [wikipedia.org] They seem to grow to 35 metres.

Re:What happened to New Zealand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39107791)

being of no strategic importance and falling off the edge of the world map has serious positive repercussions. ssssssssssssssh! they might notice us!

Re:What happened to New Zealand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39109077)

Look at Japan. It is covered with 40m canopy. I wonder if they get false positives with a lot of skyscrapers.

Re:What happened to New Zealand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106037)

We WERE pretty much all forest down here....

Interesting (4, Informative)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105797)

I'm from the Ozarks, and was shocked to learn as an adult that virtually the whole area of Arkansas-Missouri-Tennessee etc. was clear cut 100 years ago, and that there is more growth now than my grandparents had around them. But in Africa, saw the opposite, the clearing of forests at a frightening pace. If this can show us year-to-year how the forests are shrinking or growing, we may find out that the loss of carbon consumers is as important as the growth of carbon emitters.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106777)

Yes. Maybe more-so. Depends on how the lost are lost. Make furniture out of it, you still have some carbon sequestered. Same with compost. Burn it, well... that's all emissions. The big thing is, plant trees.

Re:Interesting (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 2 years ago | (#39114121)

Which is why you should not recycle paper. Recycling paper is all extra carbon emissions. With less demand on paper, paper companies have no incentive to plant more trees (tree are managed just like farms, farmers do not grow more product then the market can bear). Increase demand on paper, more trees planted, more carbon is taken out of the air and less carbon is produced trucking paper back to recycling plants to re-process the paper back into more paper. Recycling paper is actually evil but all the anti-science fanatics assume recycling produces unicorns, kittens and puppies with no adverse affect on the environment.

Re:Interesting (2)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39135591)

Which is why you should not recycle paper. Recycling paper is all extra carbon emissions. .... Recycling paper is actually evil but all the anti-science fanatics assume recycling produces unicorns, kittens and puppies with no adverse affect on the environment.

SkepticalOptimist.... I'm very much a fan of critical dialogue and questioning environmentalist, because I want environmentalism to progress with scientific method and avoid myths. With that said, well, your comment above is just wrong on many levels. Science and economics support paper recycling.

Paper recycling has been extensively studied. American Forest and Paper Association, a group of mills, engineers, etc., who plants the trees you correctly laud, says we should recycle as much paper as possible and supports mandatory recycling http://www.afandpa.org/Recycling.aspx [afandpa.org] . Most of the recycled paper is exported overseas to places without forests in the first place. The places (like China and Japan) without forests are chopping down old growth timber in Papua New Guinea and Borneo to plant fast growing pulpwood trees. And most of it is used for toilet paper. The recycled white office paper is prized because it has been bleached (wood from trees must be bleached, and most deinking investments followed the passage of the Clean Water Act). And the energy savings from recycled paper is documented - it makes sense if you think about driving trucks into the woods to cut trees vs. trucks to collect the recycled paper. And the highest recycling rates are in free market situations - time of war, poor cities... not exactly a puppy and unicorn economy.

So you should remain skeptical but be optimistic about why the free market loves recycling, and stop blaming unicorns and ponies for world interest in recycling. And maybe look into the Bureau of Land Management's timber and land subsidies if you need a new foil. Not to put too fine a point on it, you don't know what you are talking about and appear to be making it up as you go along.

Re:Interesting (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39114273)

This isn't the first or only way to measure/visualize forestation. Visible light and infrared imaging have been used for this purpose for decades now (and spectrography can tell us stuff like what species we're looking at), so we already have a pretty good idea of how many carbon consumers are lost over time.

Out of date already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105817)

Last month, The Senator burned down in Florida. The whole state lost an average of five feet.

They're in space now?! (0)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105851)

What are laser-wielding sharks doing in space? Thank goodness they're just taking orders from NASA!

Those majestic Himalayan forests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106289)

Just look at that glorious band of high canopy along the rim of the Himalayas. Makes me want to take a trip trip there.

After that, I'll take in the forests of the Alps, Appalachians, and Andes!

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Can we detect this stuff FROM THE GROUND? (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106483)

With all this remote sensing and especially with the now (more) common use of ACTIVE sensors, is there any way the average, non-James Bond citizen can know what exactly he's being scanned with?

Sort of like a radar detector for the 21st century; some sort of gadget that would tell you when some space-borne laser is strobing you or some military radar is illuminating you or you're walking through someone's microwave beam spillover? Or is that way beyond being practical now?

It might be interesting to know which (low earth orbit) satellites capable of hi-res imagery are passing overhead. Just so you can look up and wave (or put up a funny sign for google earth). Is there an App for that?

Re:Can we detect this stuff FROM THE GROUND? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 2 years ago | (#39107739)

With all this remote sensing and especially with the now (more) common use of ACTIVE sensors, is there any way the average, non-James Bond citizen can know what exactly he's being scanned with?

No, the average citizen cannot know that. The reason is that the emitter is usually not constrained by cost, and emitters exist only in small quantities. For example, that TSA scanner van may exist in quantity one, but the whole population of the USA may be required to be on the lookout for it.

Those emitters also have all the proper antennas, lenses, and whatnot that is required for their operation. A citizen can't carry antennas for all bands (unless he is Inspector Gadget, of course.) Continuously scanning all bands from ultrasound to X-ray is not even practical in lab conditions. You'd need to have a large truck that is full of very expensive equipment (fast, FFT-based spectrum analyzers from DC to daylight.) Perhaps you can buy it all, new, for about half a million dollars. It will weigh about half a ton.

My colleagues weren't joking... (1)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39107903)

I said I'd like to try the train up from Helsinki. They said, "Why bother? All you'll see is trees, just shorter trees as you go north."

And, from the low-resolution map at least, they seem to be right.

Re:My colleagues weren't joking... (1)

jlehtira (655619) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110441)

You'd also see a couple of lakes and fields!

Flight Sims (2)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39107955)

This data would be useful for flight simulator makers such as flightsim.org and orbiter!

Re:Flight Sims - correction (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39107985)

That should read "http://www.flightgear.org/" rather than flightsim.org.

Any word from Mitt Romney... (1)

ngc5194 (847747) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110081)

... as to whether the trees in this study are just the right height?

LIDAR (1)

mrquagmire (2326560) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111089)

It's pretty much my favorite optical remote sensing technology.
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