The CAO team has received new funding from the Rainforest Trust to co-lead a conservation science project that will directly benefit more than a million acres of tropical rainforest in the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo.
Category Archives: CAO News
A letter of thanks from CAO Principal Investigator Greg Asner
November 2016 marks the tenth anniversary of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) program. In recognition of this milestone, made possible by a special team and our visionary donors, we celebrate discovery, ecological conservation, and environmental action driven by CAO science and technology.
July 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of a scientific idea hatched in a distant valley along Kauai Island’s northern coast in the central Pacific. The 2006 conception was preceded by ten other years of research on the chemical properties of plant canopies in far flung environments ranging from desert shrublands to tropical rainforests. That preceding decade had cumulatively yielded just a hint that a tree-of-life approach to studying forests might be possible at the mother of all scales – Earth’s biosphere.
The past four years of punishing drought have badly hurt California’s forests. Rain was scarce, the days were too hot, and this year’s wildfire season was the worst anyone has seen in years, burning up nearly 10 million acres across the West. For the first time, a team of researchers has measured the severity of the blow the drought dealt the trees, uncovering potential future destruction in the process. The resulting paper, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a rich visual testament to just how much California needs its trees and how close the state is to losing 58 million of them.
The Hawaiian Islands are home to enormous environmental gradients that make for one of the best outdoor scientific research laboratories on Earth. The Island of Hawaii alone, just one of eight main islands, contains much of the forest cover, carbon stocks and biological diversity of the entire Hawaiian Archipelago. Hawaii Island’s 3100 km2 of forests encompass most of the ecological conditions found worldwide. As a result, much of Hawaii Island’s ecosystems have remained a focus for conservation of its unique flora and fauna as well of long-term scientific study.
A huge amount of attention has been paid to the issue of California’s deepening drought. The New York Times has made it a major and continuing focus of their reporting. California Governor Jerry Brown and the mayors of every major city in California have pushed for water restrictions and other urgent measures (http://ca.gov/drought/). Farmers, crops and livestock are suffering. California’s human inhabitants are on borrowed time, living off the dwindling water storage of our reservoirs and aquifers.
Today my team and I launch the third generation Carnegie Airborne Observatory, or CAO-3. It feels a world away from the first CAO launched in 2006, or CAO-2 from eons ago…in 2011. But things are very different this time.