Forest cover after Hurricane Maria •

Last update: August 20th, 2019 at 9:00 am

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory shows changes in the landscape across Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

A NASA research team used the Goddard LiDAR, Hyperspectral and Thermal Imager (G-LiHT) to study specific aspects of Puerto Rican forests just six months before the hurricane struck.  

The researchers were shooting 600,000 laser pulses per second to produce a three-dimensional view of Puerto Rico.

Seven months after Hurricane Maria, new surveys revealed just how much the landscape had changed. Up to 60 percent of the tall trees in the forest’s canopy had either lost large branches, were broken in half, or were completely uprooted by strong winds.

“Maria gave the island’s forests a haircut,” said Doug Morton, an ecologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “The island lost so many large trees that forests were shortened by one-third. We basically saw 60 years’ worth of natural treefall disturbances happen in one day.”

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory


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