Computer mapping is helping scientists track global deforestation, including a significant change in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson.
With the help of Google’s supercomputers, a University of Maryland geographer processed more than 650,000 images into the most detailed map of world deforestation to date.
From 2000 until 2012, nearly 888,000 miles of forest were lost. In the Catalina’s the loss totaled 87,000 acres, all due to wildfires.
Jesse Minor, a Ph. D, student at the UA, studies the effects of wildfire on forest ecosystems in the state.
“These landscapes are going to burn," Minor said. "And so the decision that has to be made is what sort of pre-fire treatment we’re going to accept and what kind of risks we’re going to accept.”
Minor said making those decisions sooner rather than later will benefit residents by reducing the amount of damage the next big wildfire could have.
Maryland geographer Matthew Hansen’s study shows most losses in the American West were caused by wildfire, while losses globally were in the tropics and caused by human development.