Spring Rains Quench Australian Drought
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Spring Rains Quench Australian Drought

December 11, 2003
While winter approaches the Northern Hemisphere, Australia is welcoming a productive spring growing season. In 2002, drought kept crop production well below average in many parts of the country, but in 2003, much of the country is on track for a record or near-record grain harvest. Satellite images of vegetation greenness are a comprehensive and consistent way to track growing conditions of both natural vegetation and crops. By comparing the ratio of different kinds of energy reflected back to the satellite by the Earth’s surface, scientists can tell where there is more or less vegetation: vegetation absorbs most visible wavelengths of light and reflects infrared. This image shows a satellite-based vegetation map comparing September 2003 to September 2002, and is made from data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite. Deep green values show where vegetation was lusher this year, and brown values show where it was less lush.

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