ALOS Kyoto & Carbon Initiative - Overview

The ALOS Kyoto & Carbon Initiative is an international collaborative project led by JAXA Earth Observation Research Center (EORC). Initiated already in 2001, it forms the continuation of JAXA's JERS-1 SAR Global Rain Forest and Global Boreal Forest Mapping project (GRFM/GBFM) into the era of JAXA's Advanced Land Observing Satellites, ALOS (2006-2011) and ALOS-2 (launch in late 2013).

The ALOS K & C Initiative is set out to support explicit and implicit data and information needs raised by international environmental Conventions, Carbon Cycle Science and Conservation of the environment - referred below to as the CCCs. Led and coordinated by EORC JAXA, the Initiative is being undertaken by an international Science Team, and focuses primarily on defining and optimizing provision of data products and validated thematic information derived from in-situ and satellite sensor data, focusing particularly on L-band SAR (PALSAR) data from ALOS, and subsequently from 2014, from ALOS-2.

The objective of the ALOS K & C Initiative is to define, develop and validate thematic products derived primarily from ALOS PALSAR data that can be used to meet the specific information requirements relating to the CCCs. Of key importance for the K & C Initiative is the systematic data acquisition strategy that was developed and implemented for ALOS, which comprised fixed, systematic global observation plans for PALSAR. The strategy was implemented as a top-level foreground mission and with a priority level second only to that of emergency observations.

To assure continuity with ALOS, a global systematic acquisition strategy has now been developed also for ALOS-2. Like its processor, the emphasis of the ALOS-2 strategy is on acquiring repetitive and consistent data over continental scales, to ensure that adequate data will be collected to allow the required thematic output products to be developed on a timely basis.

The K & C Initiative is currently focused on two key global biomes - Forest and Wetlands, with a third theme dealing with the generation of global ALOS PALSAR mosaics. A key word for the Initiative is regional-scale applications and product development, with data requirements in the order of hundreds or thousands of PALSAR scenes for each prototype area. Each theme has identified key products that can be generated from the PALSAR data, including e.g. land cover, forest change mapping and forest biomass and structure, global wetlands status and change. Within the Wetlands Theme, there is a particular focus on mapping the status and changes of mangrove forests around the globe, within the K & C Global Mangrove Watch.

The K & C Science Team currently has 32 members from 16 countries, representing research institutes, universities, national agencies for space/geospatial information, national forest mapping agencies, NGOs and private companies.


Science Team members at the 16th and 17th K&C Science Team meetings

Scientific support

An international Scientific Advisory Panel has been established to assure scientific relevance in the project design and alignment with other relevant international activities (e.g. through the Ramsar Convention and UNFCCC REDD+). The panel consists of scientists active in the fields of forest and wetlands mapping and monitoring, carbon modeling and biophysical parameter retrieval, SAR experts, and representatives from NGOs, space agencies, universities and public research institutions.

Contact points

Dr. Masanobu Shimada, Head ALOS Project
Earth Observation Research Center (EORC)
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
2-1-1, Senge, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8505 Japan

Dr. Ake Rosenqvist, Science Coordinator
solo Earth Observation (soloEO)
TTT Mid-Tower, Kachidoki 6-3-2-5006
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0054, Japan