By Ian Mount | August 24, 2012, 3:00 AM PDT
BUENOS AIRES–There may be nothing more depressing than watching a deforestation map in real time, knowing that each time a green pixel turns red, the corresponding square of earth has been denuded of trees.
That must make the folks at Terra-i some of the biggest sadists (or masochists) in the world, as they programmed a system that lets you do just that.
Launched at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June, the Terra-i system uses NASA satellite data to create image frames that, when sequenced together in video, show real-time deforestation in Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina. Developed over more than three years, Terra-i is run out of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) near Cali, in southwest Colombia, with help from the HEIG-VD in Switzerland, and the Nature Conservancy, which funds it.