Here is a really great TED talk from Greg Asner on the work of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory programme. This massive computerized sensor system which uses multiple lasers and imaging spectrometers packed into a airplane, is breaking new ground in digitally recording ecosystems in high resolution 3D. The data allows you to explore the diversity of plants and other species, the canopy structure, where carbon is being sequestered along with other chemical signatures of huge value.
The significance of this technology is immense, just one example is how it can help target forest conservation initiatives and monitor their impact on carbon storage for programmes such as REDD (Reduced Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation). This is just the tip of the iceberg and Greg’s talk points to a wealth of possibilities for future conservation and planetary management. Greg makes one particular concluding remark; that this sort of technology will be critical to the future management of our planet and its bio-diverse systems – but even more important is the understanding and wisdom to apply it.