Tropical forest carbon assessment: Integrating satellite and airborne mapping approaches

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

205 Scopus citations


Large-scale carbon mapping is needed to support the UNFCCC program to reduce deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Managers of forested land can potentially increase their carbon credits via detailed monitoring of forest cover, loss and gain (hectares), and periodic estimates of changes in forest carbon density (tonsha-1). Satellites provide an opportunity to monitor changes in forest carbon caused by deforestation and degradation, but only after initial carbon densities have been assessed. New airborne approaches, especially light detection and ranging (LiDAR), provide a means to estimate forest carbon density over large areas, which greatly assists in the development of practical baselines. Here I present an integrated satellite-airborne mapping approach that supports high-resolution carbon stock assessment and monitoring in tropical forest regions. The approach yields a spatially resolved, regional state-of-the-forest carbon baseline, followed by high-resolution monitoring of forest cover and disturbance to estimate carbon emissions. Rapid advances and decreasing costs in the satellite and airborne mapping sectors are already making high-resolution carbon stock and emissions assessments viable anywhere in the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034009
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomass mapping
  • Carbon accounting
  • Deforestation
  • Forest degradation
  • LiDAR
  • REDD
  • Satellite mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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