The Earth is changing monumentally. As temperatures rise and weather becomes less predictable, wildlife and forests face an uncertain future. Humanity relies on forests for clean water, clean air, and natural resources, but these places are also critical in stabilizing the Earth’s climate. The older and taller a forest grows, the more carbon it will hold. Moving forward, knowing exactly where and how much carbon forests hold may help fight climate change.
Now, NASA has launched a laser into space to do just that. The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation or GEDI (yes, pronounced “Jedi”) mission is a high-powered laser attached to the space station, capable of measuring the height of nearly every forest on Earth – from Ecuador to Siberia to your backyard. The goal of this mission is to collect billions of measurements and determine where carbon is located across the planet. Once we know where the carbon is, we can ensure it is preserved, maximizing the carbon held in forests worldwide.
Across the globe, teams of scientists are illuminating forests on the ground with lasers, creating detailed virtual forests to link with GEDI. Here, we will explore the cutting-edge ways NASA is measuring forests in 3D to improve our understanding of where global carbon is actually located.