Greg Asner’s mapping technology produces detailed, complex pictures of how humans’ activities affect our ecosystems.

Why you should listen

The remote sensing techniques developed by Greg Asner and his team are viewed as among the most advanced in the world for exploring Earth’s changing ecosystems in unprecedented detail and richness. Using airborne and satellite technologies such as laser scanning and hyperspectral imaging, combined with field work and computer modeling, Asner measures and qualifies humans’ impact on regions from the American Southwest to the Brazilian Amazon.

“We’re able to see, if you will, the forest and the trees at the same time,” Asner says. “We’re able to now understand an image, map and measure huge expanses of the environment while maintaining the detail. Not just the spatial resolution, but the biological resolution—the actual organisms that live in these places.” For Asner, who is on the faculty at the Carnegie Institution and Stanford and leads the Carnegie Airborne Observatory project, this is science with a mission: to influence climate change treaties and save the forests he studies.

What others say

“With wings and lasers, Asner is conducting one of the most ambitious ecology studies ever staged.” — Wired

Greg Asner’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Greg Asner

In Brief

Wireless advances in treating spinal cord damage, morphing wings for aircraft, and the world’s tallest tropical trees

November 22, 2016

Just a few of the intriguing headlines involving members of the TED community this week: Advances in treating spinal cord damage. In Nature, Grégoire Courtine and a team of scientists announced that they had successfully used a wireless brain-spine interface to help monkeys with spinal cord damage paralyzing one leg regain the ability to walk. […]

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