Technology Update

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By Forest Carbon Portal

What is remote sensing technology?

Remote sensing technology refers to a system that collects information through the use of recording or sensing equipment that is not in direct contact with the subject being monitored. Types of remote sensing technology can include satellites, x-rays, aircraft, space-craft, buoys, and other remote vessels.  For the terrestrial carbon sector, the subject being monitored most often refers to individual trees, overall forest cover and soil characteristics all tracked with the intention of providing the data that will enable the measurement and monitoring of the amount of carbon that has been lost from or stored in these sources.

Developments in remote sensing technology

Malaysia Launches Second Remote-Sensing Satellite, RazakSAT
RazakSAT is the world’s first remote sensing satellite to be launched into the Near Equatorial Orbit and is a continuation of the TiungSAT-1 programme, Malaysia's first remote sensing satellite launched in 2000. The satellite carries a high resolution camera that can take images from space for different applications for Malaysia and other countries along the equatorial region.
Scientists say that orbital location of RazakSAT will enable an increased frequency of image observation, and that the images can be applied to precision farming, landscape mapping, forest biomass, marine spatial planning, disaster mitigation, urban and road network planning.

Climate Verify TM
The Chicago Climate Exchange recently approved the first remote sensing verifier for agricultural soil carbon offsets, ClimateVerify ™. The system is based on a combination of remote sensing and proprietary Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis.

ImageTree Corporation recently developed the ForestSense technology which remotely calculates height, basal area, volume, and species for every tree crown in a given forest.  According to ImageTree CEO Mark Redlus, ForestSense can track topographical tree images down to a tenth of a meter.

Precision Forestry Positioning System
The Precision Foresty Positioning System developed by researchers at the Institute of Man-Machine –Interaction at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany, uses space and robotics technology to efficiently catalogue forest data.  According to researchers, the system has already helped catalogue 240 million single trees in the German region of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Fire Monitoring, Mapping, and Modeling System (Fire M3)
An initiative created by the Canada Center for Remote Sensing (CCRS), the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) and the agencies of Natural Resources Canada recently developed the Fire Monitoring, Mapping, and Modeling System (Fire M3). The goals of Fire M3 are to use low-resolution satellite imagery to identify and locate actively burning fires on a daily basis; to estimate annual area burned; and to model fire behavior, biomass consumption, and carbon emissions from fires.

Geostatistical Inverse Modeling
A team of environmental engineers at the University of Michigan recently developed a new method for tracking the sources and sinks of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The methods are based on a framework called geostatistical inverse modeling, and allows for the overlapping of atmospheric data with satellite observations of the Earth’s surface. According to the University of Michigan’s Dr. Michalak, the team’s developments have improved the ability to estimate sources and sinks at a much finer scale which will be particularly relevant for the specifications and requirements of climate policy.

To learn more about the role of Remote Sensing Technology in REDD, read this issues paper by FAO, UNDP and UNEP.



If you would like us to post information about other new remote sensing technologies on the Forest Carbon Portal, please email