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18 October 2011

NASA Satellite Sees Fall Colors in Northeastern United States and Canada


(Click on image for larger view.)

Vivid colors of autumn washed across the land of the northeastern United States and Canada on a nearly cloud-free day in early October, 2011. On October 9, as residents of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island celebrated the peak leaf season with major fall foliage festivals, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite passed far overhead and captured this stunning view of the region.

In the far north, the Canadian forests retain a deep green coloration. They are filled primarily with needled coniferous trees, such as pine and spruce, and stay green year-round. Moving southward towards the border between the United States and Canada, the forests are colored orange, yellow and red, reflecting a mix of deciduous trees.

In the United States, every spectrum of leaf color can be seen, arranged in patterns that reflect a variety of tree types and ecosystems. According to The Foliage Network, the colors in northwestern Maine, the northern tips of Vermont and New Hampshire and the highest elevations of upstate New York were showing peak color on October 8, shortly before this image was captured. These areas also show intense coloration in this image.

To the south, the curving arcs of the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania are colorful, while surrounding agricultural valleys appear tan. Much of Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland also appear tan, representing the color of the drying corn, soybeans and other crops as they stand in the field.

Effects of human habitation also color the landscape. Major cities along the 1-95 corridor appear as an almost unbroken line of light gray, beginning in the north with the large gray smudge which marks the New York Metro area. Moving south, the cities of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wilmington, Delaware, Baltimore, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area all appear gray. The headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Bay are filled with dark tan sediment due to the heavy rains which came to that region in September.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team