Assessing hurricane impact in forests with state-of-the-art technology
This week marks Hurricane Preparedness Week 2024, and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are gearing up with remote sensing technology and artificial intelligence that will help rapidly assess hurricane damage in forests.

When hurricanes careen through Florida, they not only damage homes and businesses, they also destroy forests and timber farms. Getting an accurate assessment for how much timber is damaged by hurricanes is essential for environmental management decisions, salvaging logging operations, tree farms’ insurance estimates and climate change studies, but so far, it’s been a vexing puzzle.

Carlos Silva, assistant professor of quantitative forest science in the UF/IFAS School of Forest, Fisheries and Geomatics Sciences and director of the forest biometrics, remote sensing and AI lab, said the key is to use a combination of remote sensing and artificial intelligence technologies, to create pre- and post-hurricane 3D maps of forests to evaluate forest loss. He uses satellites and lidar – a technology that uses lasers to collect data and which stands for Light Detection and Ranging – ground equipment to achieve this.

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Meredith Bauer May 7, 2024