Ruth S. DeFries

Learn More
Land use has generally been considered a local environmental issue, but it is becoming a force of global importance. Worldwide changes to forests, farmlands, waterways, and air are being driven by the need to provide food, fiber, water, and shelter to more than six billion people. Global croplands, pastures, plantations, and urban areas have expanded in(More)
Carbon fluxes from tropical deforestation and regrowth are highly uncertain components of the contemporary carbon budget, due in part to the lack of spatially explicit and consistent information on changes in forest area. We estimate fluxes for the 1980s and 1990s using subpixel estimates of percent tree cover derived from coarse (National Oceanic and(More)
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) introduced a new framework for analyzing social-ecological systems that has had wide influence in the policy and scientific communities. Studies after the MA are taking up new challenges in the basic science needed to assess, project, and manage flows of ecosystem services and effects on human well-being. Yet, our(More)
Forest cover is an important input variable for assessing changes to carbon stocks, climate and hydrological systems, biodiversity richness, and other sustainability science disciplines. Despite incremental improvements in our ability to quantify rates of forest clearing, there is still no definitive understanding on global trends. Without timely and(More)
The first Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument is planned for launch by NASA in 1998. This instrument will provide a new and improved capability for terrestrial satellite remote sensing aimed at meeting the needs of global change research. The MODIS standard products will provide new and improved tools for moderate resolution(More)
Reducing atmospheric carbon emissions from tropical deforestation is at present considered a cost-effective option for mitigating climate change. However, the forces associated with tropical forest loss are uncertain1. Here we use satellite-based estimates of forest loss for 2000 to 2005 (ref. 2) to assess economic, agricultural and demographic correlates(More)
Intensive mechanized agriculture in the Brazilian Amazon grew by >3.6 million hectares (ha) during 2001-2004. Whether this cropland expansion resulted from intensified use of land previously cleared for cattle ranching or new deforestation has not been quantified and has major implications for future deforestation dynamics, carbon fluxes, forest(More)
Drainage of peatlands and deforestation have led to large-scale fires in equatorial Asia, affecting regional air quality and global concentrations of greenhouse gases. Here we used several sources of satellite data with biogeochemical and atmospheric modeling to better understand and constrain fire emissions from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea(More)
Over the past 50 years, human agents of deforestation have changed in ways that have potentially important implications for conservation efforts. We characterized these changes through a meta-analysis of case studies of land-cover change in the tropics. From the 1960s to the 1980s, small-scale farmers, with state assistance, deforested large areas of(More)