In the wake of worsening climate change, scientists have been tasked with the study and research of this ever-changing phenomenon. And a group brought together by the National Geographic Society has found a new way to track the change.
The group of researchers was sponsored by the luxury watch brand Rolex and had the tools at their fingertips to get to work. After studying four decades' worth of satellite footage with other quantitative research, the group of experts created their final product: a "vulnerability index." This new tool aids climate scientists to assess the ongoing situation across the globe in various different regions. And the maps that they produced zoned in on some key areas that proved to be of high risk.
The regions in question included the tropical rainforests that stretch across three continents: South America, Africa, and Asia. And while each area has its own unique properties and elements, the vulnerability index allows a way for scientists to analyze the different situations on an even playing field. Some common units of analysis include deforestation, temperatures, and forest re-growth. For example, the aspect of mass clear-cutting has impacted the forest's ability to recycle water and store carbon.
However, one of the head researchers wanted one thing to be clear. "The public should understand that it's not just deforestation," said Sassan Saatchi of the results of his findings. "The way forests function is changing. Since about 2000, we're seeing a new phenomenon. The impact from climate change has accelerated." And while impressive and useful as this newfound index is, the scientists knew that this was just one piece in the fight for saving the planet.
"The goal here is to understand," explained Kristofer Covey from Skidmore College. "Which things are how bad? And where and to what extent, and can we then use that information to make better decisions going forward?" And understanding these key elements will help on a micro level, as resources have been distributed to help with the regions most suffering.
One thing's for certain: this latest vulnerability index will certainly play a role in how scientists analyze the ongoing situation around the world. Check back soon for more news from leading climate scientists.