Tracking forest threats

Alerts from an early warning system developed in part by DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory could help protect forests across the U.S. from the threats of insects, disease and wildfire.

Led by the USDA Forest Service, the multi-agency project uses high-performance computing to incorporate remote sensing data from NASA satellites with other climate, soil and weather data to identify abnormal vegetation patterns and the timing of seasonal changes.

"We can develop signatures of disturbance dynamics and teach the system to tell us not only where potential threats are, but even suggest what might be going on," said ORNL computational scientist Forrest Hoffmann.

Researchers say the system, called Forest Incidence Recognition and State Tracking, or FIRST, could help guide efforts on the ground to remediate or minimize forest damage by remotely pinpointing locations where threats are suspected.

Published by: EurekAlert on March 4, 2011
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