NASA has just released a high-resolution 3D map of the world’s forests, that documents forest heights. The data was compiled via lidar from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System instrument on NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat). With forest heights, researchers can more accurately assess biomass and the connections of forest height to wildlife habitat for greater knowledge of biodiversity. The data also helps assess the role forests play in climate change.
The map, available online, illustrates the highest points in the forest canopy. Researchers found that in general forest heights decrease at higher elevations and are the highest at the lowest latitudes with a notable exception being the tropical forests in New Zealand and Australia where eucalyptus grow higher than 130 feet. The spatial resolution of the map is 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), with map data validated against a network of 70 ground sites around the world.