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Biomass CCI project


Mankind has exploited forest biomass for materials and energy for millennia, but growth in human populations and increasing demands for resources are driving large changes in the extent and condition of forests, including the amount of carbon they store and exchange with the atmosphere.

The Global Climate Observing System considers above-ground biomass (AGB) to be an Essential Climate Variable due to its functions as both a source of atmospheric CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) when forest is lost under Land Use Change or by degradation, and as a sink for CO2 due to forest growth.

Information on forest biomass can also play a much wider role in understanding and predicting climate, for example in model initialisation, model testing, estimation of carbon turnover, inferring the forest disturbance regime, and data assimilation in carbon cycle and climate models.


The primary science objective ESA’s Climate Change Initiative Biomass project (Biomass_cci) is to provide global maps of above-ground biomass (Mg ha-1) for four epochs (mid 1990s, 2010, 2017 and 2018), with these being capable of supporting quantification of biomass change.

The mapping aims to achieve 500 m to 1 km spatial resolution with a relative error of less than 20 % where AGB exceeds 50 Mg ha-1. Although this resolution is finer than required for current climate modelling, it will allow more refined information to be inferred (e.g. forest age structure and the disturbance regime) that is relevant for climate and has the potential to be exploited by carbon cycle and climate models as they develop.

Latest news 


08.06.20: Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document (ATBD) highlights key algorithm improvements for Year 2

Version 2 of the CCI Biomass ATBD details the advances made in the retrieval methodology, a key development involves retrieving Above Ground Biomass (AGB) directly (rather than retrieving Growing Stock Volume and converting this to AGB). By reformulating the Water Cloud Model to include empirical parameters derived from height (and other) metrics the CCI Biomass team expect to see improved quality of the Year 2 products. The ATBD can be found here: Algortihm Theoretical Basis Document

06.12.19: Biomass map for 2017 now available

The first of a series of global maps of above ground biomass has been released at COP25 in Madrid. The new map uses optical, lidar and radar data acquired in 2017 and 2018 from multiple Earth observation satellites, and is the first to integrate multiple acquisitions from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission and Japan’s ALOS mission. Introducing data from these satellite’s sensors improves the accuracy of forest biomass detection across different biomes, and is a significant advance on the previous 2010 map generated by the GlobBiomass project. The global above-ground biomass map is freely available from the Climate Change Initiative’s Open Data Portal. Further information can be found in the Climate Research Data Package (v1.0), Product User Guide (v1.0) and Product Validation & Intercompaison Report (v1.1).

23.10.18: Post-Doc position available at Wageningen University

The Laboratory for Geo-Information at Wageningen University (NL) is offering a Post-Doc position to perform research on (1) concepts, tools and implementation for independent validation, regional calibration and use of global biomass products derived from remote sensing and (2) the use of global biomass products for assessing impacts of human-induced changes on tropical forest biomass.

23.07.18:  First CCI Biomass User Workshop

This workshop will be held at the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL) in Central Paris, France, on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 25-26 2018. The aim of the workshop is to promote knowledge exchange between the project team of CCI BIOMASS and a large range of users of global biomass datasets, including the climate change community. The conclusions from the workshop will help to refine the global biomass dataset requirements from climate and carbon modeling, ecology, geography, resource assessment, climate policy and other user families. If you are interested in attending, please contact Mrs Zoila Lopez Siri (Zoila.LOPEZSIRI[at]

Click here to have more information about this event.

01.07.18 ESA launches CCI Biomass

About the project

To generate maps of biomass and biomass change, maximum use will be made of spatial data from past, current and future Earth observation (EO) missions, including optical sensors (e.g., Sentinel 2A/B), C-band (Sentinel 1A & B) and L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (ALOS-2 PALSAR-2) and spaceborne LIDAR (e.g. NASA's Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation Lidar [GEDI]).  The combination of these sensor types will allow information on the amounts of foliage and woody plant material and their distribution to be retrieved, both spatially and vertically, and over time. The mapping will be achieved using algorithms developed within a globally consistent biomass retrieval framework and will build on the experience gained during ESA’s GlobBiomass Project. The quality of the maps will be extensively verified through the use of existing and new ground and airborne datasets. The resulting global biomass datasets will provide the carbon cycle and climate science community with the capacity to integrate global biomass layers into their models. 

The major technical objective is to build on pre-existing methods for estimating biomass from satellite data (notably those developed during the GlobBiomass project), identify the weaknesses in these methods (arising from algorithmic or data issues) and address these issues using methodological advances that are applicable globally and give consideration to different biomes. The project will also make significant advances in understanding how biomass data are used in carbon cycle and climate modelling (e.g., for model initialisation, model testing, carbon turnover time modeling and data assimilation). 

The project team

ESA’s Biomass_cci team consists of leading scientists from 12 organisations in Europe. The project is led and managed by Professor Richard Lucas (University of Aberystwyth) and the Science Lead is Professor Shaun Quegan (Sheffield University).

Resources, data and documents


The documents from Year 1 can be accessed below:

The documents from Year 2 can be accessed below:

Contact us / support

Use the following emails to contact the Biomass_cci team:

  • Scientific leader: Shaun Quegan,
  • Project manager: Richard Lucas,
  • Assistant Project manager: Heather Kay,
  • ESA technical officer: Frank Martin Seifert,