In September 2018, NASA launched an instrument, via the ICESat-2 satellite, called ATLAS which measures many ecological surfaces to determine the health of the world’s resources. This laser-like device measures the satellite’s position, the angle and how long it takes the laser beam to bounce back from the surface it is measuring. They’ve been measuring the elevation of the Earth’s ice, land, water, clouds, and now trees. Here’s where citizen scientists come in.
NASA would like citizen scientists to help validate the tree measurements they are taking from space. By knowing the height of trees, researchers can estimate the health of the Earth’s forests and calculate the amount of carbon dioxide they store.
The NASA GLOBE Observer app is user-friendly. Besides measuring trees, among other things, it also measures the landscape around you and mosquito habitats. It has a tutorial and helpful hints.
Once you’ve selected your straight tree and staked out a spot about 25 to 75 feet away, you hold the phone in front of your face and angle it to measure the base and then to the tree’s top. Then you take a picture, count your steps to the tree, log your position at its base and the app will calculate the tree’s height. (Verge)
Thanks to the Ecological Landscape Alliance (ELA) for making me aware of this great app.