A study finds 1.8 billion trees and shrubs in the Sahara desert.
- AI analysis of satellite images sees trees and shrubs where human eyes can't.
- At the western edge of the Sahara is more significant vegetation than previously suspected.
- Machine learning trained to recognize trees completed the detailed study in hours.
Why this matters<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ1OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTkyODg5NX0.O3S2DRTyAxh-JZqxGKj9KkC6ndZAloEh4hKhpcyeFDQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="3770d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3c27b79d4c0600fb6ebb82e650cabec0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Area in which trees were located
Credit: University of Copenhagen<p>As important as trees are in fighting climate change, scientists need to know what trees there are, and where, and the study's finding represents a significant addition to the global tree inventory.</p><p>The vegetation Brandt and his colleagues have identified is in the Western Sahara, a region of about 1.3 million square kilometers that includes the desert, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahel" target="_blank">the Sahel</a>, and the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/subhumid-zones" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sub-humid zones</a> of West Africa.</p><p>These trees and shrubs have been left out of previous tabulations of carbon-processing worldwide forests. Says Brandt, "Trees outside of forested areas are usually not included in climate models, and we know very little about their carbon stocks. They are basically a white spot on maps and an unknown component in the global carbon cycle."</p><p>In addition to being valuable climate-change information, the research can help facilitate strategic development of the region in which the vegetation grows due to a greater understanding of local ecosystems.</p>
Trained for trees<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTk5NTI3NH0.fR-n1I2DHBIRPLvXv4g0PVM8ciZwSLWorBUUw2wc-Vk/img.jpg?width=980" id="e02c0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="79955b13661dca8b6e19007935129af1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Martin Brandt/University of Copenhagen<p>There's been an assumption that there's hardly enough vegetation outside of forested areas to be worth counting in areas such as this one. As a result the study represents the first time a significant number of trees — likely in the hundreds of millions when shrubs are subtracted from the overall figure — have been catalogued in the drylands region.</p><p>Members of the university's Department of Computer Science trained a machine-learning module to recognize trees by feeding it thousands of pictures of them. This training left the AI be capable of spotting trees in the tiny details of satellite images supplied by NASA. The task took the AI just hours — it would take a human years to perform an equivalent analysis.</p><p>"This technology has enormous potential when it comes to documenting changes on a global scale and ultimately, in contributing towards global climate goals," says co-author Christian Igel. "It is a motivation for us to develop this type of beneficial artificial intelligence."</p><p>"Indeed," says Brandt says, "I think it marks the beginning of a new scientific era."</p>
Looking ahead and beyond<p>The researchers hope to further refine their AI to provide a more detailed accounting of the trees it identifies in satellite photos.</p><p>The study's senior author, Rasmus Fensholt, says, "we are also interested in using satellites to determine tree species, as tree types are significant in relation to their value to local populations who use wood resources as part of their livelihoods. Trees and their fruit are consumed by both livestock and humans, and when preserved in the fields, trees have a positive effect on crop yields because they improve the balance of water and nutrients."</p><p>Ahead is an expansion of the team's tree hunt to a larger area of Africa, with the long-term goal being the creation of a more comprehensive and accurate global database of trees that grow beyond the boundaries of forests.</p>
We're in an era of 'megafires'.
A headline that reads 'The Worst Year in History for Wildfires' should be a shocking and dramatic statement. Instead, it's in danger of becoming a cliché, a well-worn phrase, an annual event.
Spending time in green spaces seems to yield many health benefits, most of which researchers are only beginning to understand.
- The longitudinal study examined the development of pairs of twins growing up in various parts of Belgium.
- The results revealed a positive relationship between growing up near greener spaces and having a higher IQ.
- The differences were especially significant on the lower end of the intelligence spectrum, suggesting that policy changes could make a significant difference in intellectual development.
Intelligence is shown in association with green space in a 3,000-m radius around the current residence in twins living in an urban (n = 232), suburban (n = 126), and a rural area (n = 254)
Pixabay<p>To be sure, the study only established a statistically significant correlation—it didn't conclude that a lack of green space causes lowered intelligence in children. Still, the researchers said their findings contribute to the growing body of research on the health risks of city living, and how green spaces factor into the mix.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"There is more and more evidence that green surroundings are associated with our cognitive function, such as memory skills and attention," Tim Nawrot, a professor of environmental epidemiology at Hasselt University in Belgium, told <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/24/children-raised-greener-areas-higher-iq-study" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">The Guardian</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"What this study adds with IQ is a harder, well-established clinical measure. I think city builders or urban planners should prioritise investment in green spaces because it is really of value to create an optimal environment for children to develop their full potential."</p>
Carbon locked in soils can be emitted by bacteria. Turning up the heat on them releases more carbon.
- A new study shows that an increase in temperature can increase the amount of carbon released by the soil.
- This is in line with previous studies, though this one demonstrates a larger increase than the older experiments.
- The risk is that increasing temperatures cause a positive feedback loop.
The dirty details of an aggravated carbon cycle<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="CabkeAzx" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="169377c88f392a86f6c42180b74820a5"> <div id="botr_CabkeAzx_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/CabkeAzx-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/CabkeAzx-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/CabkeAzx-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>There is a lot of carbon in the dirt. The world's soil contains more carbon than the atmosphere, all the plants, or all the animals<a href="https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2018/02/21/can-soil-help-combat-climate-change/" target="_blank"></a>. A third of this trove of carbon resides in the soils of the <a href="https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/26866/20200813/tropical-soils-highly-sensitive-climate-change.htm" target="_blank">tropics</a>. Under normal circumstances, this works as a carbon <a href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/CarbonCycle" target="_blank">sink</a>, keeping carbon in storage and out of the atmosphere. Some of this carbon is used by bacteria in the soil to provide the building blocks of new microbes. They expel surplus carbon into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. </p><p>Many of these microbes are known to be more active when exposed to higher temperatures. To determine what this could mean for carbon emissions, a team from The University of Edenborough and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute turned up the heat in tropical soils. </p><p>The researchers went to an undisturbed plot of forest on Barro Colorado Panama, the home of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. They placed heating rods just over a meter into the soil and turned up the heat, warming the earth by four degrees centigrade. They then measured the carbon emissions from the heated ground and another nearby patch left at ambient temperature. These measurements covered two years.</p><p>Their findings, published in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2566-4" target="_blank">Nature</a>, show that the heated soil emitted 55 percent more carbon than the control plot<a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200812144102.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow"></a>. <br> <br> Study lead author Andrew Nottingham commented on these findings to the <a href="https://phys.org/news/2020-08-global-tropical-soils-leak-carbon.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">AFP</a>: "Carbon held in tropical soils is more sensitive to warming than previously recognized. Even a small increase in respiration from tropical forest soils could have a large effect on atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> concentrations, with consequences for global climate."</p><p>You can probably also spot the potential feedback loop here: If the global temperature increases too much, more carbon will be released from tropical soils, which then increase the greenhouse effect, which causes global temperatures to rise. </p>
Once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence, thrice is evidence of a pattern.<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="8PLWDgcM" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="378380d273bf4a1c9606370acea15e58"> <div id="botr_8PLWDgcM_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/8PLWDgcM-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/8PLWDgcM-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/8PLWDgcM-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Previous studies on this topic point in the same direction. Those studies and the models they inspired suggested that increased temperatures could increase soil-based carbon emissions, but they all underestimated how much carbon would be involved.</p><p>A 2016 study focusing on temperate soils also concluded that increasing soil temperatures would increase their carbon <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature20150" target="_blank">emissions</a>. They predicted that, if left unchecked, these emissions would equal the amount produced by a country similar to the United States over the next few <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/each-countrys-share-co2-emissions" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">decades</a>. Another experiment in Colorado found similar <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/355/6332/1420" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">results</a>. Both of these studies found lower increases in carbon emissions by percentage than the study on Barro Colorado. </p><p>However, these studies did not take place in the tropics, and the differences in the soils between temperate and tropical zones could explain the differences between the studies. Moreover, the dirt on Barro Colorado Island differs from the dirt in the Amazon and may be more inclined to produce more emissions when the heat is turned up. The same can be said of tropical soils <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/12/climate/tropical-soils-climate-change.html?searchResultPosition=3&utm_campaign=Hot%20News&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=93170710&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8McWKRhE8U9ChcWW2qkqNyp2Qndzr1aJmGlrMUwK_h1bM8RDQukWcM8r2OcBKW2Y0bWlRr9o4WUixKDzIo4HzKkVv19g&utm_content=93170710&utm_source=hs_email" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">elsewhere</a>. </p><p>Another <a href="https://www.forestwarming.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">experiment</a>, very similar to the one in Panama, is currently underway in Puerto Rico. However, this experiment is taking the extra step of also heating the plants near the heated soil to see what the effect of warmer temperatures is on their ability to absorb carbon.</p><p>The current study also did not heat the soil beyond the one-meter mark and cannot provide us with predictions of what more comprehensive heating of the soil would do to emissions. It was also comparatively short, and the effect may be reduced in the long run as the nutrients in the soil are depleted by the increased activity of the microbes, which are using the carbon and other resources to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02266-9" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">reproduce</a>. </p><p>The team behind the most recent study will continue their experiment to try and understand how tropical ecosystems respond to increased <a href="https://www.earth.com/news/billions-of-tons-of-co2-could-be-released-from-tropical-soils/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">temperatures</a> over more extended periods of time. </p><p>As we increase our understanding of the planet and its various environmental systems, the potential consequences of climate change become clearer and more horrifying. This new study supports previous findings that suggest disrupting soils can increase carbon emissions. While it may be too soon to tell if the significant increases found by this study are typical or an outlier, they do re-enforce the notion that a breakdown in the systems that keep the climate stable is possible if nothing changes. </p>
Some intriguing examples of people grooming the land for the unseen observer above.
- All over the world, people are writing messages and symbols on the land that can only be seen from above.
- These messages are not for God, but for our fellow humans – pilots, balloonists, or an abstract Mapmaker in the Sky.
- Non-symbolic communication with the heavens can be traced back to a cartographic innovation by Da Vinci.
Da Vinci's satellite map<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDk4MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDQ3NjA1NH0.pwxhZqmNmsV1VN6OhuYEPEctiVPT-5TpOFQ_Ckx18h8/img.jpg?width=980" id="4069b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d843bbff9e737d425e1c97a6bec6f8e6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bLeonardo da Vinci's paradigm-shifting map of the Italian town of Imola (ca. 1502)." />
Leonardo da Vinci's paradigm-shifting map of the Italian town of Imola (ca. 1502).
Image: Leonardo da Vinci - public domain<p>In Minnesota, there's a forest shaped like Minnesota. You wouldn't know it when you're near it, or even in it; you can only see it when you're flying above it. </p><p>Across the world, people have altered the land to write messages that are invisible on the ground and can only be seen by – well, by whom, exactly? Airplane pilots and their passengers, hot-air balloonists, satellites, and the Great Mapmaker in the Sky. But why?</p><p><em>When</em> is easier to answer, for this kind of message to the heavens above is a relatively modern phenomenon¹, which can be traced back to a map produced by Leonardo da Vinci.</p><p>Produced centuries before the launch of the first satellite, or even the first hot-air balloon, Da Vinci's map of the Italian city of Imola (ca. 1502) is <a href="https://kottke.org/19/04/how-leonardo-constructed-..." target="_blank">the world's first straight-from-above map</a>. <br></p><p><a href="https://kottke.org/19/04/how-leonardo-constructed-a-satellite-view-map-in-1502-without-ever-leaving-the-ground" target="_blank"></a>Until then, city maps had used the hillside (a.k.a. bird's-eye) perspective, showing their subjects aslant. These panoramic pictures were pretty, perhaps; but usually inexact and certainly incomplete. </p><p>For his Imola map, Da Vinci used the <em>ichnographic</em> perspective – a concept developed by the Roman architect Vitruvius to describe the art of drawing realistic ground plans, as if observed from directly above. </p><p>The map pleased Da Vinci's paymaster Cesare Borgia, for it provided better military intelligence than traditional, postcard-style city maps; but more importantly, it changed cartography forever. </p><p>Out with the oblique perspective went symbolism and embellishment. Today, virtually all maps are ichnographic – hard data observed straight from above. </p><p>The change is part of a larger paradigm shift, from a theocentric worldview to a human-centered one. From time immemorial, people have felt the gaze of Higher Authority bear down on them from on high. </p><p>But something crucial in that relationship started changing in the Renaissance. The increasingly accurate attempts at depicting the world from above brought down a new kind of scrutiny: quantifiable measurements instead of moral judgments.</p><p>And that warrants a different kind of response. You converse with the divine by building temples, churches, and mosques that reach skyward with magnificent domes and spires. You can talk back to the Great Mapmaker in the Sky in a more vernacular language. Like showing him a map of your state; or spelling out the name of your favorite car brand; or building the world's biggest guitar out of trees. <br></p>
Emmery's Celtic cross<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDkzOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzODUyNDA4Mn0.Fwy3WlAmyWyy9BJvNCQk4WugpmuJNOEy07l_kw4YX5s/img.png?width=980" id="adcda" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4b7cdc5764d5961303a33dc0a05358be" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Emmery's Celtic cross in Killea, county Donegal, Republic of Ireland, close to Londonderry in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom." />
The cross became visible with the turning of the leaves in the fall of 2016.
Image: YouTube<p>In 2016, air passengers flying into Derry airport in Northern Ireland spotted a giant Celtic cross in the treetops of Killea, just across the border in country Donegal, in the republic of Ireland. </p><p><span></span>Local forester <a href="https://www.irishcentral.com/travel/emmery-celtic-cross-donegal-forrest" target="_blank">Liam Emmery</a> created the pattern around 2005 by planting two different types of trees. Sadly, Mr Emmery died in 2010, six years before his creation became visible. </p><p>The figure, more than 100 m long and 70 m wide, is named the Emmery Celtic Cross in his memory. According to local horticultural experts, Emmery's cross could remain visible for up to the next 70 years. <br></p>
Heart-shaped clearing<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDk0NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzODE1MzgzNX0.4q4mh-oYmlqZ8CFNd2OyjIktMO9NznD6Gje2TGd-_pc/img.png?width=980" id="44d55" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a25f6d1efb4ca5f00fe65e2166563892" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Heart-shaped clearing in a wood near the farm of Winston Howes in Wickwar, Gloucestershire (England)." />
The heart is farmer Winston Howes' monument to his wife Janet, who died in 1995.
Image: Google Earth<p>When Janet Howes died suddenly in 1995, her heartbroken husband of 33 years was determined to build her a<a href="https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wildlife/countryside/a22526193/british-farmer-secret-heart-shaped-meadow-late-wife/" target="_blank"> lasting memorial</a>. Winston Howes planted thousands of oak saplings on a six-acre field near his farm in Wickwar, Gloucestershire. <br></p><p>In the middle of the field, he left a heart-shaped area clear of trees; the heart's point is oriented towards Wotton Hill, Janet's childhood home. The trees have now grown to create a heart-shaped oasis for Winston to remember his wife in. </p><p>The remarkable monument to love cannot be seen from the road, and remained a secret until it was noticed in 2012 by a passing hot-air balloonist. In spring, daffodils come up in the clearing, enhancing the beauty of Mr Howes' bittersweet retreat. <br></p>
As Luecke would have it<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDk1NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDI1MTc1OH0.lQWajGaiJ99WS_rsrkJWOzSe6f9Usby2FV2K5jTTdEw/img.png?width=980" id="5a727" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="648217e4ada46ab35295ce0ef778baac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The 2.5-mile long autograph of Jimmie Luecke on his farm outside Austin, Texas." />
The 'autograph' is so large that NASA has used it to calibrate its orbital instruments.
Image: Google Earth<p>In the early 1980s, <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/places/giant-luecke-signature" target="_blank">Jimmie Luecke</a> struck it rich in the chalk oil boom in Texas. With his seven-figure oil fortune, he went into the cattle business, and bought a ranch 50 miles east of Austin. </p><p><span></span>When clearing new grazing land in the late 1990s, Luecke had the luminous idea to leave large, long strips of pine forest untouched, creating a 2.5-mile long version of his name, in capital letters – surely, the largest autograph the world has ever seen. </p><p>It's a signature so large that NASA in 2003 used it to calibrate the spatial resolution of the photographs taken by its astronauts. It's also a familiar sight to pilots and passengers flying in and out of Houston airport.<br></p>
Studebaker lives on<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDk1OC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwODQwMDIzOX0.yf9nZsD6QnIZAhpE3QjX2FdxVC7FJsZG2kgy6oUzeW0/img.png?width=980" id="b8662" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f072714a9751dec3b5a1d818260268b5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Trees spelling out 'Studebaker' at Bendix Woods County Park, west of South Bend, Indiana." />
The trees next to Studebaker's former proving ground still spell out the defunct brand's name.
Image: Google Earth<p>Studebaker, the U.S. car brand, has been dead since 1966. But Studebaker, the forest, lives on. Rows of trees still communicate the name to the heavens at the defunct manufacturer's former proving grounds, now Bendix Woods County Park, due west of South Bend, Indiana. <br></p><p>In 1926, Studebaker was the first U.S. car manufacturer to inaugurate an outdoor proving ground. In 1937, when Studebaker was still merrily churning out Commanders, President,s and Dictators (sic), the company planted 5,000 pine trees there to spell out its name.</p><p>Rumors that the former proving ground also was a Studebaker graveyard was confirmed when the remains of a number of never-produced prototypes were found. Only a few were in a well enough state to be rescued, including a Champion station wagon now on display at the <a href="https://studebakermuseum.org/" target="_blank">Studebaker National Museum</a> in South Bend, Indiana. <br></p>
Graciela's guitar<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNTEwMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTc0MzE2Mn0.ohu99CQkLELSHhrOhnRjSTo7IN5E3lJoPozD9UE4vJ8/img.jpg?width=980" id="d5116" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f7834f995726bb4417769ac1d9708fb7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The instrument was created in 1979 by local farmer Pedro Martin Ureta, as a tribute to his wife Graciela, who sadly died during childbirth two years previously." />
Breaking the monotony of the Pampas squares - the unexpected shape of a guitar
Image: NASA Earth Observatory - public domain<p>From the sky, Argentina's fertile Pampas are parceled out into an interminable tapestry of squares in all possible sizes and combinations. But that monotony is broken near the town of Laboulaye by the recognizably round shape of a guitar.<br></p><p>The instrument was created in 1979 by local farmer Pedro Martin Ureta, as a tribute to his wife Graciela, who sadly died during childbirth two years prior. The guitar is made up of more than 7,000 cypress and eucalyptus trees, and stretches two thirds of a mile across the landscape. </p><p>The guitar is huge enough to be observed not just by planes flying overhead, but also from space. <a href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/83561/guitar-forest" target="_blank">This image</a> was taken in November 2007 by the Advanced Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on the Terra satellite. <br></p>
Solar Mickey<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNTI3Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NjYxMzA1Nn0.OyYtYZ9z41yuWcrKnZU9BDKMtgqNHQk6Di--8MJzXUE/img.png?width=980" id="c9402" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c11ca8a33ed0e5389335d2d04d0225f3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="48,000 photovoltaic cells arranged in the unmistakeable profile of Mickey Mouse in Orlando, Florida." />
48,000 photovoltaic cells arranged in the unmistakeable profile of Mickey Mouse.
Image: Google Earth<p>Rather understandably, the Disney Corporation has a Mickey Mouse fetish. It makes a sport of inserting 'hidden Mickeys' into the landscape, which often can only be observed from above. </p><p>There's one in Disneyland Drive, leading into the corporation's theme park in Orlando, Florida. There used to be a Mickey-shaped forest just north of the park, but that's been felled. </p><p>A more recent incarnation is the unmistakeable shape of Mickey Mouse's mug made up of <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2016/02/29/disney-world-taps-solar-power-with-mickey-mouse-pv-project/#6c1e008d6b7d" target="_blank">48,000 photovoltaic cells</a>, spread out over 20 acres, producing an average of 10.5 million kWh per year.</p>
Minnesota, Minnesota<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDk2MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDYyNDM1MX0.VYCdNC4QPm9kOnosRf4Gpec8tCIV_NwJSv3pb_Svje4/img.png?width=980" id="cd705" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31cb8fd50d75989de9fbdf03c7eaaadd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A Minnesota-shaped forest in Forest Area Township, in the northern part of the state." />
This Minnesota-shaped forest started as a clearing back in the 1990s.
Image: Google Earth<p>This homage to Minnesota was created on state forest land, managed by the DNR Division of Forestry. It is located about 4 miles south of Faunce, in northern Minnesota's Forest Area Township, halfway between Red Lake and Lake of the Woods. <br></p><p>Back in the 1990s, forest engineer <a href="https://medium.com/alt-ledes/what-a-mysterious-forest-shaped-like-minnesota-taught-me-about-time-travel-a8c6bbdc947a" target="_blank">Bill Lockner</a> was tasked with clearing away dying pine trees when he allowed himself some fun in the process. He cleared an area with the exact contours of the North Star state. </p><p>Over the years, younger trees grew up in the clearing; and when in the early 2000s the surrounding older-growth pines were cut, what was left was the current Minnesota-shaped forest. <br></p><p><strong><br></strong></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1039</strong><br></p><p><em>Do you know of any other geoglyphs or other types of land art that were made specifically and exclusively for being observed from above? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.</p><p>(1) Despite ongoing uncertainty about their age and purpose, ancient geoglyphs such as the Nazca Lines or the so-called White Horses of England can be observed from nearby elevations, and thus were most likely not made for being observed from above. <br></p>