Copernicus Sentinel-1 essential for monitoring forest biomass

Published on
March 21, 2022

On 21 March, the International Day of Forests, the work done by researchers at the laboratory of Geo-Information Science and Remote Sensing at Wageningen University on the estimation of local carbon losses caused by deforestation is highlighted in ESA's Sentinel Success Stories.

For a decade, International Day of Forests on 21 March, has marked an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of forests. About 30% of Earth's surface is covered by forests, but their area is declining annually through small scale disturbances such as illegal logging, or conversion of forestland for agriculture, clearing to pastures for livestock and urban landscapes.

Forests play a critical role in Earth's climate by providing a carbon sink. They sequester large quantities of the carbon dioxide, including that released by human activities. However, an estimated 20% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are then released back into the atmosphere through deforestation.

As we work towards net zero carbon solutions, it is vital to know how much carbon is being held in forest biomass and monitor change in biomass carbon stock. In this regard, the consistent temporal radar observations from Copernicus Sentinel-1 are adding precious value to scientific efforts to track the state and dynamics of forest biomass globally.