Biomass feasibility study

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Applied Mathematics


The primary challenge for the environmental sciences in the 21st century is to improve our knowledge on how global change, including climate change and human modifications of the Earth's surface and oceans, will affect the Earth system and the feedbacks in this system. Measurements from space are crucial to understanding how physical, chemical, biological and anthropogenic processes are intertwined in this global integrated system. Among the three domains (the atmosphere, ocean and land) making up the Earth system, the status, dynamics and evolution of the terrestrial biosphere are the least understood and most uncertain. This uncertainty runs across the whole gamut of scales, from local to global. What we do know is that the land surface is suffering large-scale and rapid changes in response to human demands for food and other resources, with serious consequences for climate, biodiversity and sustainability. Current gridded biomass information suitable for carbon cycle and Earth system models does not exist, nor do we have the global, consistent, accurate and frequently updated mapping of forest area, structure and change needed for biodiversity and forest management investigations. This need is urgent and has explicit relevance to NERC priorities, but is not met by existing Earth Observation missions or any other data source. The BIOMASS P-band radar will provide a unique, major contribution to meeting this need. It will significantly improve our ability to quantify the terrestrial component of the carbon cycle and its links to the water cycle, will provide information of major importance for societies and ecosystems, and will help to fill a crucial gap in the data requirements for coupled models of the Earth System.


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