Source: NASA Goddard and the Science Visualization Studio

Apr 27, 2018 • Forests are living, ever changing ecosystems, affected by aging, natural disasters and human interventions.

Annual maps of the lower-48 United States produced from satellite data illustrate how these dynamic systems changed 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.

To learn more about the project and get data, visit:

Matthew R. Radcliff (USRA): Lead Producer
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC): Lead Animator
Jeffrey Masek (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Jeffrey Masek (NASA/GSFC): Writer
Matthew R. Radcliff (USRA): Writer
Chengquan Huang (University of Maryland): Scientist
Feng Zhao (University of Maryland): Scientist
Joy Ng (USRA): Lead Producer
Music: Dusk On The Plains by B. Boston

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio.