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NASA Plots First-of-a-Kind Map of World Forests

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A first-of-a-kind map plotted by scientists using data from U.S, space agency NASA satellites shows the Earth's tallest and shortest forests. It is hoped that the map can be used to predict the spread of forest fires, monitor the effects of deforestation and climate change, and track/calculate carbon absorption activity and capacity.

Scientists from NASA revealed the unique map detailing world forests this past week. Compiled using data from NASA satellites, it is the first of its kind to span the entire globe. Previously, forestry maps were either local or at best regional.

The map found the world's tallest forests were in the Pacific Northwest America and South East Asia, while shorter forests were found in broader areas across Canada and Eurasia. The map is being used by scientists to calculate the amount of carbon released by humans every year that gets absorbed by the forests. However according to a statement on NASA's website, one of the more immediate and practical uses of the map is predicting the spread of forest fires.

The map could also provide a means of monitoring the effects of climate change and deforestation on the world's forests. Deforestation and land change use is responsible for 20% of the world's emissions, and 48% of the world's deforestation occurs in Brazil, according to a 2008 report by the World Resources Institute. The NASA map can be viewed online.