The Four Seasons

  • Released Thursday, November 29th, 2012
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:52PM

It's no secret that the 23.5 degree tilt of Earth's axis causes the amount of sunlight that reaches the planet's surface to change throughout the year, producing the familiar pattern of spring, summer, fall and winter. A sharp variation in seasons can be seen particularly in places around or within the mid-latitudes, where the amount of sunlight received ranges widely depending on the time of year. Located at about 39 degrees north of the equator, Lake Tahoe, a nature lover's playground on the California-Nevada border, gets a hearty taste of all four seasons. Viewed from space, the seasons paint the landscape in passing shades of green, brown and white. Watch the transformation in the time-lapse video of images captured by NASA's Earth Observing-1 satellite between August 2009 and September 2010.

In fall, bare mountains dominate the landscape after spring and summer's explosion of green has faded.

In fall, bare mountains dominate the landscape after spring and summer's explosion of green has faded.

One of the most obvious signs of winter in Lake Tahoe is the thick layer of snow that blankets the region and its world-class ski resorts.

One of the most obvious signs of winter in Lake Tahoe is the thick layer of snow that blankets the region and its world-class ski resorts.

In spring, dormant streams awaken and dark sediments pour into the lake.

In spring, dormant streams awaken and dark sediments pour into the lake.

During the height of summer, direct sunlight illuminates the mountaintops and valley floors around the lake.

During the height of summer, direct sunlight illuminates the mountaintops and valley floors around the lake.

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NASA Earth Observatory