A new instrument for the global study of the Earth's ecosphere has arrived at the ISS and is being prepared for work. It is called "GEDI" and is designed to measure the height, density and density of the planet's forest cover. Scientists have been waiting for such a tool - for the first time they will be able to look under the canopy of foliage, see all levels of the forest and at once on a huge scale.
Structurally, the GEDI is a modified lidar that uses a laser beam instead of electromagnetic pulses. It forms in the near infrared region of the spectrum and fires at a frequency of 242 times per second at one point. The parameters are selected in such a way that the beam can be reflected from any part of the forest, branches, roots, ground and even leaves, penetrating deeply through the crowns of trees. The data from the laser lidar are matched to ground-based maps and atmospheric carbon dioxide models to minimize errors.
The result of the work of GEDI will be a three-dimensional map of the planet's forests, which will help to assess the problems with them in their entirety. For example, scientists argue about the fate of the mangroves that grow at the water's edge - will they rise higher when the sea level rises, or will they simply die? And politicians and businessmen want to see confirmation or refutation of theories that regulating mass deforestation does have an impact on air emissions and climate in general.
Alas, due to the specifics of the ISS operation, the instrument had to be mounted not in the most convenient place of the station, so only the boreal forests of the northern hemisphere will fall into its field of view. And it will work for only two years, although scientists would like to observe forests for tens of years - for the representativeness of the data. Also, on the compiled maps, all trees will be the same, and after all, the difference in the absorption of carbon dioxide depends on their variety. But the trouble is the beginning, scientists believe that climate problems will become a priority for all mankind - and new research will not be long in coming.