A Science Fellow at the Nature Conservancy (and postdoc from Cornell University) has an ambitious goal to figure out a way to feed the entire population of the world without negatively impacting the environment and contributing to climate change. She hopes to do this through a high-resolution map precise enough to show the crops that are growing on every agricultural plot combined with climate models. This would give her the ability and information to plan for sustainable agriculture in the future.

Learn more about this map and how it would work:

And by “up-to-date, highly detailed,” Sweet means the kind of high-resolution maps she creates from remote imagery (usually from satellites or aircraft). These are maps so precise they can show what’s growing on agricultural plots as small as one quarter of an acre, made from imagery, Sweet says, detailed enough to allow her “to ‘train’ specialized remote sensing computer programs to recognize specific types of land cover – like apple orchards and corn fields, vineyards, farms and subdivisions.”

Once the current land use maps are up to date, Sweet and her colleagues at the Conservancy and Cornell University where she’s working on her fellowship, will combine them with climate models to get a sense of how changes in measures like temperature, storm severity, rainfall, or drought could affect agriculture in specific areas in the future.

It’s that ability to get the whole picture – the context — of a landscape that is so important for enabling people to plan for agriculture under a future of climate change.

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