Biomass monitoring mission for Carbon Assessment (BIOMASS)


For any questions or comments
on this mission, please contact :
Thuy Le Toan at CESBIO

© Copyright 2013 CESBIO, 
All rights reserved

The primary scientific objectives of the Biomass mission are

  • (1) to determine the distribution of aboveground biomass in the tropical forests
  • and (2) to measure annual changes in this stock over the period of the mission (~5 years).

The first objective will enable increased accuracy for estimates of the sources and sinks of carbon attributable to forest cover change. While a number of optical and radar sensors on existing satellites can be used to monitor the area of deforestation (and reforestation), they are not particularly good at measuring aboveground carbon stocks since the sensitivity already saturates at low biomass values. In contrast, the P-band SAR of Biomass has the potential to determine aboveground stocks of carbon up to a level of 400tha-1, or more.

The capability is particularly important in tropical forests, where ground measurements are often lacking, and persistent cloud cover hinders other sensors. Biomass is recognized to have the potential to evolve into an operational system, to provide long term monitoring of one of Earth's most important natural resources, its forests.

The Biomass mission will be an example of how pioneering developments in science and technology can offer great potential to be exploited for the benefit of society. The measurements by a P-band SAR offer additional scope to map the elevation of the Earth's terrain under dense vegetation, to give information on sub-surface geology, and to estimate glacier and ice-sheet velocities.


International context and users :

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