April 23, 2014

Drought Effects On Congo Rainforest Cover Shown By NASA Satellites

A new analysis of NASA satellite data shows that Africa’s Congo rainforest, the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, has undergone a large-scale decline in greenness over the past decade.The study, lead by Liming Zhou of University at Albany, State University of New York, shows that between 2000 and 2012, the decline affected an increasing amount of forest area and intensified. The research, published April 23 in Nature, is one of the most comprehensive observational studies to explore the effects of long-term drought on Congolese rainforests using several independent satellite sensors.Scientists use the satellite-derived “greenness” of forest regions as one indicator of a forest’s health. While this study looks specifically at the impact of a persistent drought in the Congo region since 2000, researchers say that a continued drying trend might alter the composition and structure of the Congo rainforest, affecting its biodiversity and carbon storage.

Credit: NASA

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