Keeping an eye on the Amazon

This image captures a “good news / bad news” situation in the Brazilian Amazon.

A study led by the University of Oklahoma, US, has found that total forest area is around 15% higher than estimates by the official Brazilian forest dataset (PRODES), but annual forest-loss rates were twice as high as predicted from 2001 to 2016.

There was a renewed increase of tropical forest area loss after 2013, driven in part by land use change and strong El Nino in 2015/2016, according to the paper published in the journal Nature Sustainability

Researchers from the US, Brazil and China used optical and microwave images acquired by satellite-based sensors and advanced algorithms to improve annual maps of tropical forests in the Brazilian Amazon during 2000-2017.

“Monitoring, verification and reporting of tropical forest dynamics in the Brazilian Amazon have been a critical but challenging task for the research community and society-at-large,” says Oklahoma’s Xiangming Xiao.

“Available maps of tropical forest cover in the region have large uncertainty.”

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