Thanks to the Google Earth Engine and Landsat, we can see clearly the devastation wrought by deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest. The dark green areas of the pristine rainforest whiten to a light green as the trees are cleared for agriculture. The methodical and industrial approach to deforestation in the Amazon is clearly visible. The video shows a timeline of satellite imagery taken with by the Landsat satellite programme. Every few days, Landsat repeats its orbital pattern around the globe, taking photos as it passes over. In orbit since 1972, Landsat is run by NASA and US Geological Survey and is the longest running effort to acquire images of the Earth’s surface from space.
Google Earth Engine in the Amazon
With such a large data set it can be hard to analyse it all – enter Google who developed Google Earth Engine. With their computing and mapping resources, Google developed an interactive demo that shows the effects of deforestation in the Amazon in a time-lapse from 1984-2012. The results are shocking.
Zooming in, you can clearly see the “fishbone” deforestation taking shape, where a road opens up into the forest and all along that trail, deforestation spreads outwards in a systematic manner. The land is converted to agricultural use and vast swathes of essential rainforest are rapidly destroyed.
Deforestation Video of 50 Football Fields Per Minute?
Zooming out, you can see how intense the scale and speed of the destruction is. It’s not hard to imagine 50 football fields per minute being deforested when you see it from that perspective. Trocano Araretama REDD+ project in Borba, Brazil, is a 1.3m hectare conservation effort attempting to put a stop to such wholesale deforestation. Our REDD+ conservation project places a value on the carbon trapped and stored in standing forests as well as the biodiversity and communities the forest supports. Avoiding deforestation not only prevents emissions, it absorbs carbon emissions from other sources as the rainforest grows. We also utilize Landsat and satellite imagery to verify the success of our efforts, which are evaluated as natural capital and made available on the voluntary carbon market for businesses who wish to mitigate their own emissions.
Visit the Google Earth Engine project for more interactive demos or view the app below – you can click and zoom on it like you would a normal Google map. (Control the speed of the time-lapse with the clicker in the bottom left.) For more fascinating geological imagery, visit the Landsat Facebook page.
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