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Thankfully, we have researchers for even those “how many blades of grass on the lawn?” kind of questions.

The answer comes to us from NASA:

Specifically aimed at determining how much carbon is stored in the nation’s forests, the photograph below represents the density of organic carbon around the country.

This map of USA's biomass caught up in plants represents an estimated five million trees---Click to enlarge

From the researchers:

Josef Kellndorfer and Wayne Walker of the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) recently worked with colleagues at the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey to create such an inventory for the United States. The map above was built from the National Biomass and Carbon Dataset (NBCD), released in 2011. It depicts the concentration of biomass—a measure of the amount of organic carbon—stored in the trunks, limbs, and leaves of trees. The darkest greens reveal the areas with the densest, tallest, and most robust forest growth.

Complied over six years, the data that represents this photo and creates the biomass inventory is the result of national park maps, space-based radar, satellite sensors, computer models, and a massive amount of ground-based data. According to the researchers: “It is possibly the highest resolution and most detailed view of forest structure and carbon storage ever assembled for any country.”

In the end, inventories like this will hopefully answer questions like “Did global forests hold more or less carbon in the past?” “Could they store more in the future?” “Does it matter where those trees are growing?”

To get a grip on climate change and to understand the life that covers around 30% of the Earth’s surface, the more we know, the better.

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