Be a citizen scientist in trees project, due Nov. 11

NASA GLOBE Trees Challenge 2022: Trees in a Changing Climate

Trees and climate are intricately linked. Trees cool and moisten our air, fill it with oxygen, store carbon, create shade and habitats for other creatures, anchor the soil and slow the movement of water, and provide food, fuel, and building materials for human activities. Forests are considered one of the world’s largest banks for the carbon emitted into the atmosphere through natural processes and human activities, since trees store carbon as they grow. Carbon calculations help scientists forecast climate change. Tracking how trees are changing over time – both in height and in the number of trees that make up an area – is also a good indicator of an ecosystem’s health in a changing climate. Both tree height and trunk circumference can also help to measure biomass, the total mass of living material above ground in a particular area. The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Program invites you to take part in the upcoming Trees Challenge: “Trees in a Changing Climate,” and contribute data toward a better understanding of trees and forests.

The Trees Challenge follows the Land Cover Challenge held in July/August 2022, which focused on observations of land cover change and comparisons to the 50-year record of Landsat satellite imagery. The continued observations of our environment by measuring tree height and tree circumference using the Trees tool in the GLOBE Observer app will help provide even more data to be used by NASA scientists and student researchers. After all, trees are land cover! The data collected by volunteer scientists on the ground can be compared to the space-based tree height data from the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) and the Global Ecosystems Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) instrument on the International Space Station. All of the observations from various sources allow scientists to create global maps of land cover and forests and can help us understand how our planet is responding to a changing climate. With the 3.03 trillion trees and 78,000 tree species on Earth, we are constantly striving to build and sustain the global inventory of tree height observations and to collect as many tree circumference measurements as possible. Scientists especially need data from multiple trees in areas that contain many trees. This data density is a way for scientists to build a more robust dataset of the tree heights from the ground and space.

Help estimate the number of trees that make up your area and contribute to tree and climate science by sharing your observations of trees.

Images of trees sent in by volunteer scientists using the GLOBE Observer app.