Explore views of Earth's changing vegetation seen from space.
How green is our planet? The answer to that question actually changes with the seasons and depends on where you’re looking. From space, scientists monitor Earth’s plant life using instruments aboard satellites that measure the health and lushness of vegetation on land. The measurements allow researchers to create maps that show where in the world plants have gone dormant and where they’re in bloom, or whether there’s any vegetation at all. The maps can also indicate how a landscape has evolved over time due to changes in climate and human activity. Since 1999, the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite has measured vegetation changes on Earth from orbit. Watch the video to see more than a decade's worth of observations collected by the spacecraft.
This visualization shows vegetation changes from Feb. 2000 through Dec. 2012. Dark green areas indicate high plant growth; tan areas low or none.
Greenness levels start to fade during fall in the Northern Hemisphere as temperatures cool and the days grow shorter.
In winter, vegetation at high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere goes dormant. The black areas in the polar region above indicate no data.
Plant life starts to bloom during spring in the Northern Hemisphere as temperatures warm and the days grow longer.
Greenness levels peak in the Northern Hemisphere during summer, when the highest rates of plant growth are observed.
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Video and images courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory
- Kayvon Sharghi (USRA) [Lead]