2023.05.11 Thu

Monitoring fluctuating forest carbon from space
- ESA Climate Change Initiative (CCI) releases the latest version of global forest biomass dataset using ALOS and ALOS-2-

Forests are a critical component of the Earth, accounting for the majority of the world’s biodiversity and more than 80% of the world’s plant biomass. In addition, if forests are regenerated and expanded, they offer a great opportunity to slow and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change. Information that can track changes in forest area and carbon stocks from a national to a global scale is extremely important for policies that seek to balance human-produced greenhouse gas emissions and sinks to achieve net-zero emissions in the fight against climate change. Earth observation satellites have been shown to be useful for a wide-area mapping of forest above-ground biomass, however there are high hopes for understanding temporal changes in greenhouse gas emissions and absorption by forests on a global scale.

In order to contribute towards addressing these issues, the latest iteration (Version 4.0) of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Climate Change Initiative (CCI) global above-ground biomass dataset was released under the cooperation agreement between JAXA and ESA. This dataset provides an annual estimate of global above-ground biomass (unit: Mg/ha) at 100 m spatial resolution over five years (2010, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020), through the global acquisitions by ESA’s ENVISAT and Sentinel-1 C-band synthetic aperture radars (SARs) and JAXA’s Daichi (ALOS) and Daichi-2 (ALOS-2) L-band SARs. Version 4.0 provides biomass change, along with quality flag indicators, for annual increments from 2017-2020 and decadal change from 2010-2020.

The 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates at the end of November 2023, will review progress toward the overarching goal to limit warming to below 2.0o, and ideally 1.5o C, relative to pre-industrial levels as specified in the Paris Agreement. This dataset will provide the world with more reliable information on forest biomass, and will help ensure a better understanding of the net change in carbon associated with forest growth, loss, and degradation. It is also expected that the dataset will be used as appropriate decision-making information for global warming mitigation actions in countries and the global community as the accuracy of the data is further improved.

Related links
ESA Press Release
ESA CCI Biomass Project
ESA CCI Open Data Portal