Image: Boca do Acre, Brazil from orbit

Dec 06, 2013
Credit: ESA

This Envisat radar image was acquired over the city of Boca do Acre in western Brazil.

The city lies within Amazonas state, the largest Brazilian state by area, and almost completely covered by the Amazon Rainforest.

The name Boca do Acre – or 'mouth of the Acre' – comes from its location on the banks where the Acre and Purus rivers meet.

Along the river's main course are free-standing 'oxbow lakes', formed when a river changes course.

This scene is a compilation of three images from Envisat's radar, acquired on 28 October 2005, 12 September 2008 and 17 September 2010. The individual images are each assigned a colour – red, green and blue – and when combined, reveal changes in the surface between Envisat's passes.

In this image, the colours reveal large areas of deforestation – evident by the large, geometrically shaped plots cut out along linear roads.

Given its size and frequent cloud cover, remote sensing using is the best way to study the Amazon Basin on a large scale, especially for assessing the extent and damage due to deforestation. Radars can observe during both day and night and through any weather conditions.

Satellite observations also support the United Nations' Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries, or REDD, initiative.

Trees absorb and convert it into oxygen, while trees that rot, are cut down or burnt actually emit carbon dioxide. So preserving forests not only keeps them from releasing the gas, it ensures the absorption of carbon dioxide from other sources.

REDD gives a financial incentive for developing countries to maintain forested areas. Reducing or preventing is the mitigation option with the largest and most immediate carbon stock impact in the short term, as the release of carbon as emissions into the atmosphere is prevented.

Upcoming missions such as Sentinel-1 and -2, being developed for Europe's Copernicus programme, as well as ESA's Biomass satellite, will support REDD in forest mapping and monitoring.

Explore further: Microplastics in the ocean: Biologists study effects on marine animals

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Earth's northern biomass mapped and measured

Jun 27, 2013

The biomass of the northern hemisphere's forests has been mapped with greater precision than ever before thanks to satellites, improving our understanding of the carbon cycle and our prediction of Earth's ...

Panama REDD: Getting what you pay for

Oct 04, 2011

A new report by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Canada's McGill University identifies gaps in forest monitoring and ways to improve data collection. This will produce reliable estimates ...

Massive carbon credit sale announced in Madagascar

Sep 18, 2013

The Government of Madagascar and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today that 705,588 carbon credits are certified for sale from the Makira Forest REDD+ Project. WCS estimates that it will ...

Destruction of Brazil's Amazon jumps 28 percent

Nov 14, 2013

Brazil's government reported Thursday that annual destruction of its Amazon rainforest jumped by 28 percent after four straight years of declines, an increase activists said was linked to recent loosening ...

Recommended for you

New challenges for ocean acidification research

16 hours ago

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide ...

Compromises lead to climate change deal

17 hours ago

Earlier this month, delegates from the various states that make up the UN met in Lima, Peru, to agree on a framework for the Climate Change Conference that is scheduled to take place in Paris next year. For ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.