Thursday, December 29, 2011

Citizen scientists' climate-impact forest survey wraps up

Priya Shetty in Nature News: One of the biggest citizen-science projects ever conducted concludes this month after five years of data collection. The wealth of information gathered will help researchers to understand how climate change is affecting forests.

The effort has been coordinated by Earthwatch, an environmental group and a member of the HSBC Climate Partnership, which supports a range of environmental projects funded by the international bank. Earthwatch aimed to improve the way that temperate and tropical forests are monitored in countries such as Brazil, China and India, in order to better understand the way that forests capture and release carbon, one of the least understood aspects of the global carbon cycle. Earthwatch has recruited more than 2,200 volunteers (all HSBC employees) to measure tree growth, study the decomposition of leaf litter on the forest floor and analyse soil samples to estimate how much carbon is captured.

"Forests play a huge role in regulating climates at global scale and provide livelihoods for many millions of people, so understanding how they are going to change and adapt to changing conditions is one of the most pressing environmental questions of our time,” says Robert Ewers, a forest biodiversity researcher at Imperial College London who is not involved in the Earthwatch project. "Every forest is different, so well-managed and quality-controlled citizen science such as Earthwatch’s programme represents a powerful way of gaining the large volumes of data that are needed to gain insight into the global patterns of forest change."...

A view of the Amazon rainforest, shot by Beyond The Ultimate Llc Race Director Wes Crutcher, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

1 comment:

Michael Chadd said...

There is no doubt that how the Amazon Rainforest is treated will have a critical impact on how the climate change struggle pays out. The preservation efforts must be tied to a profitable future for an environmentally sustainable rainforest. It must be clearly shown that the rainforest is worth far more alive and thriving than it will ever be deforested and dead.