Dense Amazon’s three-dimensional view has enabled researchers at NASA a considerable scope to study for in-depth analytics of the high number of falling branches as well as the mortality rate of the trees occurring at times of drought. The El Nino draught in the year 2015 – 16, that caused the death of about 65% tress and branches as comparable to the number of tree deaths than ever happened in any particular year can now be studied through the detailed view.
As scientists can now have full-length detailed analytics of the effects of such drought conditions, it is possible that it will allow them better images to understand and study the condition levels of carbon that could be present in the tropical forest in case of such natural calamity taking place in coming future.
Doug Morton, Earth system scientist at Goddard Space Flight Centre at NASA, situated at Greenbelt, Maryland mentioned that Amazon’s climate is assumed to be warmer and drier during the coming times and droughts allow the scientists to get a brief idea on how forests in tropical regions will be reacting to warm conditions.
Without abundance rains in tropical regions, the trees find it difficult to absorb more water from the soil and further send them to its canopies which stands at almost equivalent to 15 to 20 stories in height. This results in the risk of more dying trees. It becomes a huge challenge to understand and notify on the number of dying trees, especially in a region as vast like Amazon, and mainly when the branches of the trees have been shedding more in numbers.
On average, researchers make their survey on a few acres of land to find the living trees and also accounts for the dead debris left on the ground. With the aid of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), bird’s eye approach was resorted to by Morton and his team. The technology was mounted by the group on top of airplanes to create a three-dimensional reconstruction of lookalike forests spanning in over three separate flight in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
A research team in Brazil flew over two of 30 miles swaths nearby the Santarem city in the state of Para. Out of the two expeditions, one was carried over Tapajos National Forest, whereas the other team flew over a privately owned forest that got fragmented because of land disputes.