Satellite Data Enable Global Mapping of Mangrove Forests
The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center has released a new data set on the extent of mangrove forest cover, which is among the most productive and biologically important ecosystems in the world. Global Mangrove Forests Distribution, version one, indicates that mangrove forests around the year 2000 covered an estimated 137,760 square kilometers across 118 countries and territories worldwide. Mangroves are a unique type of tropical vegetation, appearing as groups of shrubs or trees as high as fifty feet and prospering in the distinct brackish habitats of coastal deltas. Their deep, extensive roots typically host a diversity of small marine organisms that require a hard surface and stable shelter as tides come and go. Mangroves help stabilize shorelines and can reduce the impact of natural hazards such as tsunamis and coastal storms.
The Global Mangrove Forests Distribution data set was derived from one thousand Landsat scenes acquired between 1997 and 2000. Mangrove areas were identified using digital image processing methods and labeled with the help of reference field data and high-resolution commercial satellite imagery. The data are provided at a spatial resolution of about 30 meters, and are organized for downloading as tiles covering 10 degrees latitude by 10 degrees longitude. The data are useful in ecosystem modeling, biodiversity research, land cover change analysis, global carbon accounting studies, coastal hazard assessments, and decision-making regarding human-environment interactions and future adaptive strategies.
The data set was developed by an international team led by Chandra Giri of the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation Science Center (EROS). Giri has previously worked at CIESIN and recently completed a 3-year term as a member of the SEDAC User Working Group.
Global Mangrove Forests Distribution, version one