The Biomass in Earth’s Biggest Trees Was Measured: New Laser Tech Details

laser tech measures the biomass of trees

The massive Californian redwood trees’ biomass and volume were measured for the first time using new laser technology. 

The newest development provides never-seen-before data of the 3D structure of trees. Scientists can also determine how much carbon the trees absorb or how they might respond to a severe problem: climate change. 

New research has also emerged. Here is what you need to know.

Laser Tech Insights

The recent research led by Prof. Mat Disney from the UCL Geography explained that the most prominent trees are significant in terms of their AGB (above-ground biomass), their broader impact on ecosystem structure, and the carbon storage. Such large trees are also extremely challenging to examine and measure. 

They also tend to be underrepresented in models and measurements of AGB. 

Teaming up with NASA and with support from the NASA Carbon Monitoring System project, the scientists utilized ground-based laser calculations to develop 3D maps of the redwoods. 

Thanks to the space agency’s new space laser, dubbed GEDI, the scientists mapped the forest carbon from space. The GEDI project involved Prof. Disney’s work to improve and test the models. 

The Team’s Discoveries

There is an 88-meter tall Colonel Armstrong tree among the large trees scanned, with a 3.39m diameter-at-breast height and approximately 110 tons. 

The team compared more methods with the TLS estimates and discovered that their estimates corresponded with 3D crown mapping, a well-known procedure developed by Stephen C. Sillett, an American botanist. The results were astonishing.

Scientists succeeded in finding that the large trees’ AGB estimates agreed to within 2 % of the records from crown mapping. They also discovered that both 3D methods indicate that the trees are over 30 % heavier than current estimates. 

The team highly recommends the 3D crown mapping and the laser tech. Such methods could be used to offer independent, complementary 3D measures.

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