British satellite imaging company DMC International Imaging Ltd (DMCii) is today launching a ground-breaking project with support from the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board to provide more accurate and reliable information about land carbon storage and how it changes over time.

By building on established carbon modelling and satellite remote sensing techniques, this initiative will provide scientifically validated carbon market intelligence and an automated Monitoring, Verification and Reporting (MRV) system to help organisations in their efforts to reduce deforestation and degradation. This system is designed for use in supporting REDD+ initiatives and aims to significantly reduce the transaction costs incurred in trading forest based carbon.

An important differentiator for this project is that the team will conduct rigorous scientific analysis of the carbon intelligence from the data sources (satellite images and ground samples) throughout the processing chain and will use carbon models to quantify the uncertainties involved and supply users with valuable quality assurance information.

Head of DMCii Product Development, Adina Gillespie, explains: “Earth observation-based carbon models are proven effective for MRV, but we have to accept that we don’t yet have a perfect system. We set out by asking ourselves: How can policy makers and carbon markets put their trust in an MRV system without knowing the uncertainties involved? With this in mind, we will employ end-to-end quality assurance and make the accuracy of the carbon market intelligence from this system available to the user.”

The system will use high–resolution satellite images to produce detailed carbon inventory maps, and will incorporate frequently updated images from Earth observation satellites to determine changes (deforestation, degradation) in forest cover or land use – and therefore the carbon flux – over time.

This innovative project was made possible with investment from the Technology Strategy Board, and brings together carbon intelligence provider Carbon Associates Limited and world renowned remote sensing and carbon sequestration researchers from University College London (UCL) under the leadership of satellite operator and remote sensing solution provider DMCii. The resulting carbon market intelligence products address a market estimated at £16 billion for which the UK has a strong base of skills, experience, research and technology.

Patrick Newton, acting Chief Executive Officer of Carbon Associates, commented, “we are very pleased to have been selected as a consortium partner alongside DMCii and UCL in this Technology Strategy Board backed project. We look forward to delivering increasingly accurate carbon stock accounting data to project developers, financiers and forest owners as they look to trade forest based carbon credits in the voluntary markets and take advantage of the enhanced Carbon Market Intelligence this project will deliver”.

Carbon market intelligence is continuously developing as the science matures and new techniques are developed. By employing rigorous quality assurance throughout its system, the team will be able to test how future improvements influence the reliability of data as the science and techniques of carbon modelling and remote sensing evolve.