UK: University of New Hampshire tropical ecologist, Michael Palace, has been awarded a USD 364,000 grant from NASA’s Space Archaeology Program to estimate the population of pre-Columbian indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin lowlands by means of satellite remote sensing technology.
Currently, population estimates vary widely – from 500,000 to 10 million – and are the subject of controversy and debate. Among other things, knowing with more accuracy how many people might have impacted the rainforest through agriculture and development prior to European contact will help scientists understand how the Amazon Basin might withstand current pressures from deforestation, selective logging and development.
Palace, a research assistant professor at the Complex Systems Research Center (CSRC) within the Institute for the Study or Earth, Oceans, and Space, is an expert in using satellite-borne imagery to study various aspects of tropical forests. In this project he will use hyperspectral imagery taken by NASA’s Hyperion sensor onboard the Terra satellite.