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Envisat Symposium report day 3: Satellites supporting Kyoto - our future is in our forests

Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels. Participating nations are given the option of planting new forests, forming 'carbon sinks' that can be set against their overall carbon emissions.

Peter Curran from the University of Southampton explained how he has used another Envisat instrument, the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), to infer global levels of land-based chlorophyll the compound that plants use for photosynthesis enabling a calculation of the amount of vegetable biomass and the development of a new vegetation index, called the MERIS terrestrial chlorophyll index (TCI).

The results were tested for accuracy against the actual chlorophyll content of sites in the UK's New Forest, and also compared to forest sites in southern Vietnam that were contaminated with Agent Orange defoliant during the Vietnam War.

Agent Orange leaves lasting effects on plant life, so even fully-regrown forest still has lowered levels of chlorophyll. Records of the amounts of Agent Orange sprayed on the forest between 1965 and 1971 were compared to current MTCI values, and a relationship was indeed found. Another team from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) recounted how they have used MERIS data to develop a vegetation index for a German brewery using it to predict barley yields. The product is compatible with a former index acquired via the US Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) instrument, but has a higher resolution.

Other speakers addressed the subject of forest mapping using MERIS, but also Envisat's Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) along with radar data acquired from Envisat's predecessor missions ERS-1 and 2.

Shaun Quegan of Sheffield University discussed use of interferometry coherence data from the ERS-tandem mission to estimate tree age in the UK's Kielder forest an important variable in terms of estimating carbon flux, he revealed, because you
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.d'acunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
9-Sep-2004


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