Amazon rainforest field research facility opens for ecological, global change studies

A new field research facility in the Amazon rainforest sponsored by NASA and the Brazilian government will be completed this month as part of an experiment to study the region's impact on global change and develop information for sustainable resource management solutions. Extensive ecological field studies get underway this summer during the region's dry season.

First-of-a-kind experiments on the impact of logging on tropical ecosystems will be among the studies conducted at the facility near the Amazon River city of Santarém in the northern Brazilian state of Pará. Over 150 scientists and students from Brazil, the United States, Europe, and several South American countries are involved in research at the facility.

The studies are part of the Brazilian-led "Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia" (LBA), a multi-year project that integrates meteorological, hydrological, ecological and land use research across the Amazon.

"LBA seeks to understand the function of the vast Amazon region within the Earth system," says Michael Keller of the U. S. Forest Service's International Institute of Tropical Forestry. "From an ecological point of view, we want to get a detailed picture of both the natural cycles of change and the changes brought on by land use decisions." Keller is project scientist for the LBA ecological projects.

In addition to the more than 30 ecological projects being funded by NASA, LBA includes extensive research on the meteorology and hydrology of the region. NASA's LBA research began in 1998.

Using data from field work and observations from space by Landsat 7, Terra, and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), LBA scientists will produce an integrated analysis of the complex biological, chemical, and atmospheric processes that drive this massive ecosystem at scales ranging from one-meter plots to the entire Amazon region. This analysis will be used to study potential future scenarios for the Amazon. <

Contact: Cynthia O'Carroll
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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