The Earth Archive


An unprecedented scientific effort to LiDAR scan
the entire surface of the Earth before it’s too late.


The climate crisis threatens to destroy
our entire cultural & ecological patrimony.

We’ve already lost 50% of the world’s rainforests.
We’re losing 18 million acres of forest each year.
Rising sea levels will make whole cities,
countries, and continents unrecognizable.

Unless we have a record of these places,
no one in the future will even know they existed.

How it works

LiDAR, Light Detection & Ranging, involves shooting a dense grid of infrared beams from an airplane towards the ground. It’s a high-resolution scan of the earth’s surface & everything on it. Not an actual image, but a dense three-dimensional cloud of points.

The Earth Archive is both a program of scanning focused on endangered landscapes and an open-source collection of LiDAR scans accessible to scientists around the world.




1. Create a baseline record of the earth as it is today to more effectively mitigate the climate crisis.

The only way to measure change is to compare two sets of data – a before and an after. Right now, we don’t have a high-resolution “before” data set for most of the planet. So we don’t know how things are changing and whether our efforts to combat climate change are making a positive impact.

2. Build a virtual, open-source planet accessible to all scientists so we can better understand our world.

Archaeologists can discover undocumented settlements. Ecologists can study forest composition, tree size, age, and distribution. Geologists can study hydrology, faults, and disturbance. Modelers can project the future of our planet under many different climate scenarios. The possibilities are endless.

3. Preserve a record of the Earth for our grandchildren’s grandchildren so they can study & recreate our lost heritage.

As science & technology advance, they’ll apply tools, algorithms, and AI to LiDAR scans done today and ask questions that we can’t currently conceive of. We can’t yet imagine how these records will be used, but we know that they’ll be critically important in the future.


A gift to future generations

We won’t live long enough to see the full impact of the Earth Archive. Neither will you. But that’s exactly why it’s worth doing.

 The Earth Archive is a bet on the future of humankind. A bet that together, collectively, as people & as scientists, that we will face the climate crisis. And that we’ll choose to do right thing. Not just for us today, but to honor those who came before us, and to pay it forward to future generations who will carry on our legacy.