Since carbon sequestration is such a cardinal factor in alleviating climate change, understanding the effectiveness of reforestation efforts and developing sound estimates of forest carbon storage is critical.

It can be difficult to measure the forest properties, especially in places that are not easily accessible.

Assistant Professor at Purdue University Jingjing Liang, specializes in quantitative forest ecology and is also a co-chair of the Forestry and Natural Resources Department's - Forest Advanced Computing and AI (Artificial Intelligence) Laboratory, conducted a measurement of forest carbon capacity in northern Asia together with an international team.

Their research, which is a collective of remote sensing, machine learning and field work, provides the most recent estimates of carbon capture prospect in native North Korea, and shows the benefits of reforestation efforts in China and South Korea over the last two decades.

According to Hyun Seok Kim (Seoul National University) and Chunyu Zhang (Beijing Forestry University in China): "Based on the data we can collect from northeast China and South Korea, we used machine learning and big data analysis to estimate how much carbon is stored throughout the region. We mapped the spatial trend of carbon storage in that region of the world for the first time with accuracy."

These data were combined with open records of biological and environmental conditions, for example with : temperature, precipitation, topography and standardized differential vegetation index, and a World Resources Institute database that catalogs trees around the world to inform algorithms capable of accurately measuring carbon storage capacity and forest characteristics.

For example, China has around half a million of square kilometers of new forests planted over the past 20 years, and the country has attained one of the world's highest rates of afforestation.

As Liang said: "We show that, under scientific guidance, proper forest management and reforestation can restore nature and help the forest capture more carbon for a temperate forest biome. That can be an effective way to mitigate climate change,".

"President Trump has pledged to plant billions of trees. If we do that the right way, we can greatly improve the carbon storage of our forests in a few decades, as we see today in northeast Asia."

New estimates of forest biomass carbon stock based on multisource data in Northeast Asia.

Forests play a significant role in regional as well as global C cycles.

Here, we described spatial patterns and significant biomass C density drivers for Northeast Asia based on multi-source data from forest inventories, as well as data from bioclimatic, remote sensing and topographic and human footprints.

We derived high, for the very first time?

Resolution maps of the "present day" and future density of C forest biomass for this region.

Over the past 20 years, biomass C stocks in Northeast Asia have grown by 20%-46%, of which 40%-76% were contributed by planted forests.

Our results proves that reforestation and forest efforts in Northeast Asia have effectively improved the size of the region's carbon sink, and adequate forest management practices such as precise forestry and systematic forest control for any outbreaks as fire or insect would be critical to maintain and enhance this critical Northeast Asian carbon sink.

Read the original article "Big data, machine learning sheds light on successes in Asian reforestation" at https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2020/Q4/big-data,-machine-learning-shed-light-on-asian-reforestation-successes.html