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New Website Tracks Deforestation in Near Real-Time

Forests around the world are disappearing at an astonishing rate. But now, these trees won't fall without a sound.


A new map and website called Global Forest Watch provides the first near-real-time look at the planet's forests, using a combination of satellite data and user-generated reports. The website's developers hope that Global Forest Watch will help local governments and companies combat deforestation and save protected areas.


The new Global Forest Watch will update monthly at a medium resolution with data from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra and Aqua satellites. The resolution of these monthly updates is somewhat coarse, but every year, the map updates with much finer-grained imagery from NASA's Landsat program. Each pixel of Landsat data is roughly equivalent to a baseball infield, said Nigel Sizer, the director of the WRI Global Forest Initiative. That's 100 times finer than the monthly updates, according to Sizer.
"What is new here is that we are taking an enormous amount of very complex and very confusing information and making it available to everyone, everywhere," Sizer said.

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Monday, February 24, 2014