Sustainability and space data company Ecometrica is to help disseminate data from NASA’s latest ‘Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation’ (GEDI) LiDAR instrument, thanks to a new contract with the University of Maryland (UMD). The firm’s Ecometrica Platform will make processed maps more widely available to end users and reduce the need for additional processing of highly technical remote sensing LiDAR data.
GEDI is led by the UMD, in collaboration with NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, and deploys a multibeam LiDAR instrument onboard the International Space Station to measure the forest vertical structure and biomass. Carried from Earth to the International Space Station atop a reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, it is already providing valuable raw data, which will be crucial in better understanding climate change and the Earth’s ecosystems.
Dr Richard Tipper, executive chairman of Ecometrica, said: “The value of downstream satellite data in managing climate and environmental risks is significant and it is important that this is available and easily accessible to users all over the world.
“Projects such as Forests 2020, the global forest monitoring initiative that is part of the UK Space Agency’s international programme, and managed by Ecometrica, are already proving very successful in using data from space to protect ecosystems on Earth. Importantly, this has also helped create an international skills-base and infrastructure across tropical forest countries, which can now benefit from the results of the very latest Earth observation instruments from NASA.”
The complex LiDAR instrument is operated by the university, which is working with Ecometrica to make data available globally in a format that is easy to use for environmental monitoring and protection purposes.
Professor Ralph Dubayah, principal investigator on the GEDI mission, explained: “Ecometrica’s role is crucial because of the growing network of international experts using the Ecometrica Platform to translate academic outputs into real life applications. The Forests 2020 is supported by a global community of experts who will be able to access the GEDI outputs to make important advancements in their fields.”
The data has global potential but needs to be interpreted. Ecometrica’s Platform will display key findings on rapidly updating maps, allowing conservation organisations and government agencies around the world to tap into the findings and use the real-time data to monitor forest canopies and cover.
Ecometrica and the University of Maryland have a history of working together, focused on building applications investigating forestry carbon management in Sonoma County, California. This partnership is set to continue as part of the latest three-year contract.