Aerial Imaging allows In-depth Individual Tree-level Analysis in California

Aerial Imaging allows In-depth Individual Tree-level Analysis in California

Researchers use satellite data and laser-imaging technology to demonstrate the dramatic effects of ongoing drought in California. More than 888 million Californian trees have faced devastating impacts of drought--related water losses since 2011, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study has shed light on how the ongoing drought in the western US state put trees at a risk of dying. California is aware of trees’ conditions, and it has taken the matter seriously. Earlier, the state governor Jerry Brown declared the situation as the ‘epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history’. He even called for the mobilization of more resources to safely remove dying trees.

Until now, California was taking decisions after seeing ground reports and data from field testing, but the new study by the Carnegie Institution for Science allowed the state to have a more comprehensive look on trees throughout California. Ashley Conrad-Saydah from California Environmental Protection Agency said, “We’ve never before had this kind of in-depth individual tree-level analysis done in California”.

Study researchers, led by Gregory Asner, used imaging technology to determine tree’s water content from the sky. The Carnegie Airborne Observatory at the Carnegie Institution for Science helped the researchers to conduct such analysis. After observations, the researchers found that the impacts on the ongoing drought put California trees at an increased risk of catching fire or dying.

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