Led by Dr. Greg Asner at the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) is mapping the rainforests around the world by measuring biodiversity density with laser scanners attached to a twin turboprop plane (Dornier 228). The CAO combines 3D spectroscopic and laser imaging with unique scientific approaches to study, explore and conserve ecosystems at large geographic scales. The CAO has collected priceless scientific data of different remaining plant species in the Amazon, in Magadascar, Malaysia and Australia. Dr. Asner’s research has helped spawn a CAO in Ecuador (Peru and Colombia are not far behind). Colombia’s Ministry of Environment used the CAO to measure the carbon locked in the country’s rainforests. Damage to the world’s rainforests contribute to 1/5 of global green house gas emissions (more than the transport sector). The indispensable material being collected by CAO helps measure carbon emissions more accurately and thus helps advance efforts at Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degration (REDD), which would allow developed countries to offset their carbon emissions by paying developing countries to protect their forests. REDD will most certainly be on the agenda at CoP18 this year in Doha, Qatar (November 26 – December 7, 2012).
Travel through the rainforest canopy with CAO: