nasa tree map
by Ali Berman
Categories: Causes, Environment.
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA is famous for looking beyond planet earth and far into the universe. Thankfully, with their science fiction worthy technology, the scientists are also putting resources towards solving environmental issues back at home.

A team at NASA has created a high resolution image of the height of trees contained within Earth’s forests. NASA explains, “The map will help scientists better understand the role forests play in climate change and how their heights influence wildlife habitats within them, while also helping them quantify the carbon stored in Earth’s vegetation.”

How on earth did they figure out the heights of trees across a whole planet? Scientists from all over the country worked together and “created the map using 2.5 million carefully screened, globally distributed laser pulse measurements from space.”

Lead researcher Marc Simard said about the environmental impact of the project, “Our map can be used to improve global efforts to monitor carbon. In addition, forest height is an integral characteristic of Earth’s habitats, yet is poorly measured globally, so our results will also benefit studies of the varieties of life that are found in particular parts of the forest or habitats.”

The data shows that taller trees are found at the low altitudes and decrease in height the farther away they are from tropical temperatures. Higher altitudes also showed a decrease in height. The most notable exception to the rule is in temperate rainforests in Australia and New Zealand where one can find eucalyptus, a plant that grows in excess of 130 feet.

We certainly hope this new detailed information will help groups preserve vital habitats and fight climate change.

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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