Vegetation across Southern California

May 21st, 2008 |

MODIS true color images (Animated GIF)

A comparison of Aqua MODIS true color images from 05 March 2008 and 17 May 2008 (above) showed the “browning” of vegetation across Southern California after the Spring season rains (90-day total rainfall | 90-day percent of normal rainfall) had ended. A significant amount of snowmelt was also evident during that period over the southern Sierra Nevada mountains (as well as over the higher elevations of smaller ranges such as the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto Mountains). The images (courtesy of Liam Gumley, CIMSS) were created in Google Earth using publicly available data from the SSEC MODIS Today website.

Even though the MODIS true color images above suggested an overall dry-down of the vegetation across the region, a comparison of AWIPS images of the MODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and visible channel (below) indicated that many areas of southern California still exhibited a NDVI value as high as 0.5-0.6 on 20 May 2008. A National Public Radio story pointed out that the rapid growth of non-native plant species across parts of southern California could actually be a warning sign of an increased potential for future wildfire activity (once that vegetation continued to dry out over the upcoming Summer and Fall months).

MODIS NDVI + visible image (Animated GIF)

2 Responses to “Vegetation across Southern California”

  1. hypotheek says:

    I was at san bernandino end of april last year but this whole area his vegetation showed allready completely different then around other places we visited and what I saw on my way to the airport. Is this also related to the season or simply to what’s growing (and not).

    Here in Holland we simply have more or less one “overall” vegetation and look of the fields.

  2. I live in San Diego and spend quite a bit of time hiking the local trails. I’ve noticed some of what this article mentions with regards to the proliferation of non-native plants.

    It seems to be especially prevalent in areas where we had massive burn-offs from brush fires over the last few years.

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