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Return of GEDI’s First Data on Forests

By Maryland Today Staff

A University of Maryland project aboard the International Space Station designed to give insight into how much carbon is stored in Earth’s trees and how much carbon dioxide they can absorb is now producing data, NASA announced yesterday.

Launched in December, the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) instrument uses a laser distance measuring method called lidar to make 3D maps of Earth’s forests and landforms, determining how tall trees are and the density of growth, among other things.

Raw data from the instrument shows 2D views of forests; some of the recent data highlighted in the NASA release shows profile measurements of a South Carolina woodland earlier this year.

“GEDI will provide a vertical record, not only of how tall trees are, but how much canopy material there is at any height,” Ralph Dubayah, GEDI principal investigator and a professor of geographical sciences, told NASA. “GEDI will make more than 10 billion individual observations of this canopy structure, which is orders of magnitude more than we have ever had.”

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