Mission Airborne Carbon 2013

Current worldwide discussions focus on the actions needed to reduce the negative effects of deforestation and forest degradation of tropical forest ecosystems. The main initiative known as UN-REDD + (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries), requires countries to perform precise estimates of forest biomass, in order to determine the amount of carbon encompassed by tropical forest ecosystems. Developed countries can in turn provide developing countries significant funding as an incentive for reduced forest-based carbon emissions.
The main objective of MAC13 is to develop robust mechanisms to measure carbon in Costa Rican forests using hyperespetral technology
Dr. J. Pablo Arroyo-Mora

Remote Sensing provides tools for a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the changes in forest biomass, and provides the advantage that large areas can be mapped in a consistent, repeatable and efficient manner. Traditionally, studies have been performed with multispectral satellite sensors such as Landsat, MODIS or SPOT, and have generated many of the guidelines for the development of research in forest ecosystems. More recently, airborne hyperspectral sensors such as HyMap, AISA and CASI/SASI have shown great promise for mapping and monitoring biophysical variables.

Through the support of the Canadian Space Agency, the principal investigators (Dr. Margaret Kalacska and Dr. J. Pablo Arroyo-Mora) are carrying out a hyperspectral research project to map major forest areas in Costa Rica. This aerospace research deployment has been named Mission Airborne Carbon 2013 (MAC-13).

The MAC-13 Mission is supported by the National Research Council Canada’s Flight Research Laboratory which includes a team of researchers with expertise in the planning and implementation of international airborne missions. In Costa Rica our project partner is the National Airborne Research Centre (PRIAS) within the National Center for Advanced Technology (CeNAT) which has conducted various missions in the country since 2003. Additionally, institutions such as the Foundation for the Development of the Central Volcanic Range (FUNDECOR), the National Forestry Financing Fund (FONAFIFO) and the National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio), are actively participating in the Mission.

One of the main objectives of MAC-13 is the training of new scientists. Canadian and Costa Rican students are taking part in all aspects of the mission development, from mission planning, the pre and post-processing of the hyperspectral data and the analysis and publication of results. In addition, through this research effort Costa Rica seeks to provide information and develop robust mechanisms to estimate carbon stocks, to develop conservation management plans and ensure carbon capture compliance mitigation commitments in the REDD + program.