03 Oct 2012:
NASA Map Illustrates
Effects of Drought on U.S. Vegetation
A new NASA map shows the major effects of this summer’s record droughts
on vegetation across much of the U.S., leaving a swath of parched earth that caused a shortage of food for wild and domesticated
animals alike. In the map, which shows the contrast between plant health during August and the average conditions for the month from 2002 to 2012, a vast brown area from the Rocky Mountains to the Ohio River valley illustrates regions where plant growth was below normal. The map is based on satellite data fed into the so-called Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, which measures the extent to which plant leaves absorb visible light and reflect infrared light. Drought-impacted vegetation reflects more light than healthy vegetation. “I am struck by the extraordinary depth and spatial scale of this drought,” said Molly Brown, a vegetation and food security researcher with NASA. “There is very little fodder out there for animals to eat.” Almost two-thirds of the contiguous U.S. experienced some level of drought by the end of August, with 39 percent of the nation enduring severe to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s unspoiled coral reefs. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.