New biomass mapping tool launched

Friday 28 Jan 2022

Mapping the world’s carbon stores is essential for taking stock of the climate crisis. It informs our climate solutions, the emissions targets’ that countries set and so - it goes without saying - the figures need to be as accurate as possible.

It’s not an easy picture to take, however. Humans are constantly upsetting the amount of carbon in forests, soils and oceans - natural ‘carbon sinks’ that should absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere than they release. So much so that the Amazon rainforest was found to be emitting more CO2 than it sequesteredlast year.

A new biomass mapping tool launched on 13 January takes us ever closer to Earth’s actual dynamics. Chloris, founded by Marco Albani and Dr Alessandro Baccini provides a net view of the planet’s aboveground biomass (AGB), showing how it has changed over the last 20 years.

“The industry practices around carbon measurements in land and forest are still very much stuck in the old way of doing things,” says Albani. The scientists hope their combination of satellite observation, fieldwork and AI can offer greater “integrity” to nature-based solutions.

Chloris has a wide set of applications. It can be used by companies looking to acquire carbon credits or those running projects to identify areas with the highest carbon stock. It can be harnessed by experts monitoring the risk to forests within supply chains.

And, most importantly, it gives governments a more detailed way to meet their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.

Publicly available on Microsoft’s Planetary Computer, a higher resolution version of the map is available for clients at 30 metres. That’s around the length of a tennis court, or the crown of a single, mature tree in a tropical rainforest. Biomass at this level can be measured to give an incredibly detailed global picture.

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