The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation

Monday, 15 December 2014: 5:30 PM
Ralph Dubayah1, Scott J Goetz2, James Bryan Blair3, Temilola E Fatoyinbo3, Matthew Hansen1, Sean P Healey4, Michelle A Hofton1, George C Hurtt1, James Kellner5, Scott B Luthcke6 and Anu Swatantran1, (1)University of Maryland, College Park, MD, United States, (2)Woods Hole Research Ctr, Falmouth, MA, United States, (3)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (4)Rocky Mountain Research Statio, Ogden, UT, United States, (5)Brown University, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Providence, RI, United States, (6)Goddard Space Flight Center, Severna Park, MD, United States
Spaceborne lidar has been identified as a key technology by the international ecosystem science community because it enables accurate estimates of canopy structure and biomass and forms the basis for fusion approaches that extend the capabilities of existing and planned radar missions, such as the NASA-ISRO SAR and the ESA BIOMASS mission. The Global Ecosystems Dynamics Investigation Lidar (GEDI Lidar) was recently selected by NASA's Earth Ventures Instrument (EVI) program. From its vantage point on the International Space Station, GEDI Lidar provides high-resolution observations of forest vertical structure and addresses three, core science questions: What is the aboveground carbon balance of the land surface? What role will the land surface play in mitigating atmospheric CO2 in the coming decades? How does ecosystem structure affect habitat quality and biodiversity? GEDI informs these science questions by making billions of lidar waveform observations of canopy structure over its nominal one year mission length. The instrument uses three laser transmitters to produce 14 parallel tracks of 25 m footprints. These canopy measurements are then used to measure biomass and in fusion with radar and other remote sensing data to quantify changes in biomass resulting from disturbance and recovery. GEDI further marries ecosystem structure from lidar with ecosystem modeling to predict the sequestration potential of existing forests and to evaluate the impact of policy-driven afforestation and reforestation actions on sequestering additional carbon. Lastly, GEDI’s observations of ecosystem structure provide a mapping of critical habitat metrics at the fine scales required for understanding the patterns, processes, and controls on biodiversity and habitat quality. The selection of GEDI Lidar, when combined with the rapid advancement of new radar missions and the availability of long-term land cover archives from passive optical sensors, ushers in an exciting new era of land surface imaging with far ranging consequences for ecosystem science.