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Can a Storm and Wind Affect Tree Height? Read this Blog and Find Out!

Bradford Pear Tree.

Are you participating in the Trees Around the GLOBE Student Research Campaign? Then you’ll want to read the most recent GLOBE Community Blogs written by Brian Campbell, NASA Senior Earth Science Education Specialist.

“Have you ever seen a tree snap due to high winds or a lightning strike?” Campbell asks in the blog. “Back in March 2020, I saw a beautiful Bradford Pear tree starting to bloom with its pale yellow-white blossoms. I thought that this would be a very nice, isolated tree to take a NASA GLOBE Observer tree height observation.”

In the blog, Campbell discusses the impact of Tropical Storm Isaias on the Bradford Pear tree – and how the NASA Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) Mission measured the same tree.

“You also know that ICESat-2 uses an onboard laser altimeter system called the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System or ATLAS, to measure the heights of object on Earth, including sea ice, ice sheet, glaciers, sea level, landforms, and trees,” Campbell said in the blog.

“So, I decided to see if ICESat-2 happened to measure this tree, and to my delight, it did! What makes this super-exciting is that this is an isolated tree. What does this mean? The ICESat-2 laser photons that are fired from the satellite to Earth spread out when traveling the 300 miles from the satellite to the Earth. When the photon hits the Earth, it has an approximate 14m diameter footprint on the ground. If there happens to be multiple trees in that footprint, ICESat-2 takes an average tree height from all the trees within that footprint. The Bradford Pear tree happened to be an isolated tree, meaning that it was the only tree height captured, by ICESat-2 in the photon footprint. Exciting stuff!”

To learn more, and read the entire blog, click here.


News origin: GLOBE Implementation Office