Publications

Explore over 150 publications and papers.

Ecology from the air

See our Principal Investigator Greg Asner discuss what our forests are really made up of at TED Conference.

Global Press Coverage

Carnegie Airborne Observatory has been featured in leading newspapers and media all over the world.

Who we are

Our mission is to make scientific discoveries, support conservation, and galvanize action to protect the environment at large geographic scales.  Through our advanced Earth imaging technology, novel data analytics, and technical training of next generation scientists, we reach our mission goals all over the world.
Our hope is that a highly visual approach can bridge a widening gap between science, decision-making, and society for a more sustainable future.

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Gold Mining in Peru

Illegal Gold Mining in Peru

2nd July 2015

Kinney paper 157

Mapping Hawaiian Ecosystems

15th June 2015

CAO biodiversity approach

CAO Biodiversity Mapping Approach

1st May 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 10.13.07 PM

Oil Palm Plantation Explosion in the Amazon Basin

1st May 2015

CAO-Riverscape-DIA-Peru-DSM-PCA-3

All-New Forest Visions Through 3D Chemical Imaging

30th April 2015

CAO-Submontane-Kosnipata-Peru-DSM-RGB-2

Photographic-like Imaging of Remote Andean Forests

30th April 2015

CAO-SpeciesMapping-Nwas-KNP-SA-DSM-SVM-2

Mapping Whole Landscapes of Species for the First Time

30th April 2015

CAO-Tambopata-Peru-DEM-1

Land and Soils Below Forests Revealed by CAO

30th April 2015

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Our Systems

Current System

Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System (AToMS)

The most recent and technologically advanced instrument and computing package for CAO is called AToMS, or Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System.

AToMS has three integrated sensing technologies: (i) High Fidelity Visible-Shortwave Infrared (VSWIR) Imaging Spectrometer; (ii) Dual-laser, waveform Light Detection and Ranging (wLiDAR) Scanner, and (iii) High-resolution Visible-to-Near Infrared (VNIR) Imaging Spectrometer.

AToMS is now in its third generation configuration, with advances in all sensors.  It can map features on the Earth’s surface in three dimensions, including all terrestrial ecosystems and the human-built environment. AToMS can also image coral reefs and other aquatic habitats with spectral detail.

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Previous Systems

CAO Beta

The Beta System operated from 2007-2009, providing spectral imaging through the Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) and three-dimensional imaging through a Carnegie single-laser Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) Scanner. The CAO Beta System was a research test-bed for the current AToMS airborne sensor package. The Beta System operated in California and Hawaii.

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CAO Alpha

The Alpha System operated from 2006-2011, and consisted of a Visible-to-Near Infrared (VNIR) Imaging Spectrometer and waveform Light Detection and Ranging (wLiDAR) Scanner. The Alpha System made major contributions to ecological science and conservation studies in California, Colombia, Hawaii, Madagascar, Panama, Perú, and South Africa.

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Worldwide Media Coverage

From The New York Times, Newsweek, The Guardian and Huffington Post, through Scientific American, Nature, National Geographic and Mongabay, to Wired, USA Today, The Economist and much more, Carnegie Airborne Observatory has been featured in leading newspapers and media all over the world.

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Latest Publications

Access our publications on topics of conservation, ecology, policy, and remote sensing

Monitoring plant functional diversity from space

paper186
CAO could go to space, and revolutionize plant diversity monitoring on Earth
Jetz, W., J. Cavender-Bares, R. Pavlick, D. Schimel, F.W. Davis, G.P. Asner, R. Guralnick, J. Kattge, A.M. Latimer, P. Moorcroft, ME. Schaepman, M.P. Schildhauer, F.D. Schneider, F. Schrodt, U. Stahl, and S.L. Ustin
Nature Plants
Published in 2016
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Collaborators

"CAO provided a whole new perspective on the lives of animals in the rainforest canopy. We were able to trace how primates move through this complex, three-dimensional landscape exactly as they see it."

− Kevin McLean, Yale University

"CAO lifted the veil on biogeochemical heterogeneity of rainforests in Costa Rica. In a single day, CAO revealed landscape patterns that would of taken a lifetime of field work to discover."

− Phil Taylor, University of Colorado

"The CAO was integral in tying together ground-based knowledge of savanna ecology and community-based natural-resource management to understand drivers of woody vegetation structure in South Africa."

− Jolene Fisher, University of Witwatersrand

"Development of the high fidelity VSWIR instrument with CAO has resulted in a new class of imaging spectrometer for 21st century science and application research."

− Robert O. Green, NASA

"I flew with the CAO over the Amazon, reporting their research about the complex dynamic between climate change and rainforests. CAO imagery was an invaluable tool for effectively explaining this research to a general audience."

− Simeon Tegel, Journalist

"We used the CAO to reveal fascinating geographic patterns of termite mounds in African savannas, and used them to predict the ecological effects of climate change."

− Shaun Levick, Max Planck Institute

"The CAO was pivotal in mapping suitable habitat for rare and endangered species in tropical dry systems Hawaii."

− Susan Cordell, US Forest Service
CAO operates off grants and donations.  To support us, please contact Greg Asner at gpa@carnegiescience.edu or click below to give us a donation. Thank you!

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Blog

Our latest thoughts on our research, conservation and the environment
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rapid-ohia-death-hawaii_i1

Outside Magazine: What’s Killing Hawaii’s Trees?

Media Coverage

Patient zero was probably in Puna, a lush, wild district not far from Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii’s Big Island. In 2010, the U.S. Forest Service and University of Hawaii started getting calls from distraught landowners in the area about ohia trees on their properties. Ohias, the bright, flowered trees that dominate nearly 50 percent of the island-state’s forests, are known for their ability to thrive nearly anywhere across the archipelago. But a swath of them had withered mysteriously and died in a matter of weeks.

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AndrewDavies

CAO Sheds Light on Animal Ecology

Research

Animal assemblages are often viewed as a product of the ecosystems in which they live, but in reality they are often the reason an ecosystem looks the way it does. The roles of animals in shaping ecosystems are so important that two special issues recently published in PNAS and Ecography focus specifically on megafauna (literately translated as ‘large animal’) and the important roles they play in ecosystems, as well as what we may have lost through their extinctions across much of the globe.
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CAO_CBS_Evening_News_30Dec2015

CBS Evening News: Nearly 1 billion trees threatened by California drought

Media Coverage

While much of the country is dealing with rain and snow, California is still dry. One hundred percent of the state is in some form of drought, and a new study just released by the Carnegie Institution for Science has now put a number on what the drought has done to California’s iconic forests. A high-tech flying laboratory has been soaring over California, measuring the impact of four years of drought.

“There’s a lot of red on this screen, which is a sign that we’re over an area that’s in trouble,” scientist Greg Asner told CBS News.

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