Worcester, MA — Google has contracted Clark Labs to develop an on-line prototype of the Land Change Modeler application to run on Google’s Earth Engine interface. This development complements the on-line forest monitoring applications of Carnegie Institution for Science (CLASlite) and IMAZON (SAD), demonstrated on Earth Engine at the COP 15 meeting in Copenhagen last month.
The on-line prototype will contain much of the functionality of the land change modeling component of Clark Labs’ Land Change Modeler application, included within the IDRISI GIS and Image Processing software, as well as within its extension to ArcGIS. The system will allow users to analyze, model and predict deforestation and then to evaluate the amount of carbon involved.
The hope is that this on-line system will help support the implementation and evaluation of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) projects. The intent of REDD is to assign financial value to the carbon stored in forests such that sequestration of that carbon becomes a viable alternative to other uses such as conversion to pasture and farmland. The Land Change Modeler provides a critical ingredient for REDD projects in that it can be used to establish the business-as-usual (BAU) baseline that projects the future deforestation in the absence of a REDD project. Quantification of this projected deforestation and comparison with various governance scenarios provides the basis for evaluation of the carbon stocks involved and potential compensation.
It is hoped that the REDD program will lead to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, enhance ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation, and provide opportunities for poverty reduction.
Implementing REDD projects will depend on modeling which requires significant data and computing resources. Google’s new Earth Engine platform will ameliorate the financial burden of implementing REDD projects.
“The objective of Earth Engine is to enable organizations such as Clark Labs to run their algorithms on-line, powered by Google’s computational capacity, with easy access to massive earth observation data sets,” indicated Dr. Amy Luers, Senior Environment Program Manager for Google.org.
At this time, many governmental and non-governmental organizations are using the Land Change Modeler as their primary analytical tool for REDD project development. Clark Labs, in conjunction with Conservation International, is currently augmenting its Land Change Modeler suite to ensure compatibility with the World Banks’ BioCarbon Fund (BioCF) methodological framework.