Annual maps of the lower-48 United States produced from satellite data illustrate dynamic changes in U.S. forests from 1986-2010. Logging and hurricanes play a significant role in the Southeast, and fires and insect invasion damage forest canopy in the West.
Trees are one of the world's best absorbers of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Understanding how trees and forests change through time is one of the first steps to understanding how active they are in pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, which is of profound interest to scientists monitoring climate change.
Developed for the North American Forest Dynamics study, scientists combined 25 years of satellite data from the joint U.S. Geological Survey/NASA Landsat satellite program with information from the U.S. Forest Service to highlight where forest canopy was disturbed.