Remote Sensing

Remote sensing is the science of obtaining or gathering information about an area or feature of interest from a distance. This can typically be done by mounting sensors on ground or aerial based equipment (i.e. satellites or aircraft). This information can be further  analyzed using modeling and quantitative techniques with computer based tools. It is crucial to be able to create a bridge between the research that is being done to relevant frameworks for mangrove and blue carbon management. Some of the key issues we want to tackle at Mangrove Science is to improve our understanding of how carbon is stored and sequestered in mangrove ecosystems to better improve carbon accounting policies.

“Forests store 85 % of terrestrial carbon, yet the amount of carbon contained in the Earth’s forests is not known to even one significant figure, ranging from 385 to 650 petagrams (1015 grams or 109 tons) carbon (Saugier et al. 2001, Goodale et al. 2002, Houghton et al. 2009). Terrestrial biomass, which is the woody mass per unit area, ecosystem structure including height and density, and extent need to be quantified on a global scale and with meaningful frequency to account for changes from both natural and human-induced disturbances. This can only be done efficiently and uniformly through remote sensing (Fatoyinbo et al., 2012).”

Learn about our methods.

The following details the different remote sensing tools we use to study the nuances of mangrove carbon dynamics.

TanDEM-X (TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurements)

Is the first single-pass interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar to generate consistent global digital elevation models.

Very High Resolution Optical Stereophotogrammetry

Commercial satellites can provide sub meter spatial resolutions to identify finer scale changes in the landscape.

Airborne Scanning Lidar

Regarded as the “Gold Standard” for terrain mapping and forest height and canopy surveys

Terrestrial Laser Scanning

Has the ability to capture fine-scale 3D forest structure.


Is a new concept in Synthetic Aperture Radar for the polarimetric and interferometric measurements of biomass and ecosystem structure using digital beamforming architecture, a highly capable digital wave-form generator, and advanced dual-polarization array antennas.

G-LiHT Imager (Goddard’s Lidar, Hyperspectral and Thermal Imager)

Is a portable, airborne imaging system that simultaneously maps the composition, structure, and function of terrestrial ecosystems using lidar, imaging spectroscopy and thermal measurements