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Global ecosystems dynamics investigation (GEDI)

November, 2014 to December, 2018


On July 30, NASA selected the Global Ecosystems Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) LiDAR mission for funding under its Earth Venture Instrument-2 program. The Principal Investigator of the project is Ralph Dubayah of the University of Maryland. A full-waveform LiDAR instrument will be attached to the International Space Station (ISS) and will provide unprecedented detail about the structure of the world’s forests between 52°S and 52°N - the area covered by the ISS ground track. The cost of this mission will not exceed $94 million, and is scheduled for completion by 2021. 

GEDI’s science objectives include:

  1. Quantify the distribution of above-ground forest carbon at fine spatial resolution

  2. Quantify changes in carbon resulting from disturbance and recovery

  3. Quantify the carbon sequestration potential of forests through time under changing land use and climate

  4. Quantify the spatial and temporal distribution of habitat structure and its relationship to habitat quality and biodiversity

Forest Service Role

GEDI lasers penetrate the canopy and provide information about stand structure
GEDI lasers penetrate the canopy and provide information about stand structure all the way down to the ground, allowing for accurate estimation of the amount of standing forest biomass
The Forest Service has the lead on statistical estimation and uncertainty assessment for biomass information products coming out of the mission (related to Objective 1). GEDI will make spatially discrete (25-m radius) measurements across most of the world’s forests. Those observations will be treated statistically as a sample, providing a clear framework for assessing uncertainty.  Forest Service participants (Co-Investigator Sean Healey and team member Paul Patterson) have experience in this area not only as FIA (Forest Inventory and Analysis program) scientists, but also as co-leaders of an ongoing global LiDAR-based biomass inventory being undertaken with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Data from GEDI will likely be used by FIA to enhance the information it can provide regarding the status and trends of the country’s forests.

You can learn more about NASA's GEDI project at:


Healey, Sean P. ; Patterson, Paul L. ; Saatchi, Sassan S. ; Lefsky, Michael A. ; Lister, Andrew J. ; Freeman, Elizabeth , 2012

Project Contact: 

Principal Investigators:
Ralph Dubayah - University of Maryland