Drought and recovery

These images from the NASA Earth Observatory show areas of drought (brown = below average plant growth) and excess plant growth (green = above average plant growth).

Northern Iraq is suffering a severe drought. Much of the country’s grain is dependent on seasonal rainfall rather than irrigation:

Credit: NASA/Terra/MODIS
Credit: NASA/Terra/MODIS

Grain-producing regions of Afghanistan, on the other hand, are recovering from a period of drought, with the wheat crop responding well to spring rains:

Credit: NASA/Terra/MODIS
Credit: NASA/Terra/MODIS

Satellite imagery like this gives governments and aid agencies a quick way to analyze conditions on the ground.

Iraq image: Earth Observatory — Drought in Iraq

Afghanistan image: Earth Observatory — Crop Recovery in Afghanistan

Grace and Peace

Melting glaciers, changing borders

Video from BBC News: Glacier melt changes Italian border. I can’t embed it, so you will have to go to the link.

This reflects a different view of borders than what we have in the United States. In the US, if a river that marks a boundary changes course (e.g. the Mississippi), then the border stays where it was. In Europe, it seems that if a glacier melts, then the international border can move 100 meters or so.

Grace and Peace

Lake Powell images, 1999 to 2009

NASA’s Earth Observatory has a series of images from 1999 to 2009 showing fluctuating water levels in Lake Powell in southeastern Utah. Lake Powell is formed by Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in northern Arizona.

Lake Powell 1999, Credit: NASA Landsat 5
Lake Powell 2008, Credit: NASA Landsat 5
Lake Powell 2008, Credit: NASA Landsat 5

Earth Observatory has a “play” link to watch the images in played in order.

From the description at the NASA Earth Observatory site:

The Colorado River flows from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado through the southwestern United States. Along its route, the river passes through an elaborate water-management system designed to tame the yearly floods from spring snowmelt and to provide a reliable supply of water for residents as far away as California. The system is both appreciated for the water it provides and criticized for the environmental and cultural losses it has created.

Among the dams on the Colorado is Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, which creates Lake Powell—a deep, narrow, meandering reservoir—upstream in southern Utah. In the early twenty-first century, this modern marvel of engineering faced an ancient enemy: severe, prolonged drought in the American Southwest. Combined with water withdrawals that many believe are not sustainable, the drought has taken its toll on the water level in Lake Powell over the past decade.

Grace and Peace

Taliban areas of Pakistan

Imagine the Taliban with nuclear weapons. That could happen if the worst-case scenario happens in nuclear-armed Pakistan, where the radical terrorist group is making significant advances.

A Taliban conquest of Pakistan is by no means certain. The Pakistani military is powerful and could strike back. Or the cultural differences between the tribal Taliban and the majority Punjabi and Sindhi groups that populate the Indus valley could be significant enough to block the advance of the radical Taliban ideology in the hearts of the people. But then again, the Taliban are determined and patient, and could make further unexpected advances.

The Long War Journal has a couple maps showing the extent of Taliban control in the Northwest Frontier Province and adjoining areas, not too far from the capital city of Islamabad.


Extent of Taliban control 4/14/09

from The Long War Journal:

Terrorists rally in Swat, march through region


Extent of Taliban control 4/24/09

from The Long War Journal:

Rangers deployed to secure Islamabad outskirts

HT: The Map Room

Grace and Peace

NASA Earth Observatory turns 10 — vote for your favorites — final round

Out of over 3000 images that have appeared over the past ten years on the NASA Earth Observatory site, viewers have voted and narrowed it down to their favorite 50. From now until April 27th, viewers can vote for their favorite out of these 50, and the winning image will be announced on April 29th.

Go to Earth Observatory to vote. Here they are:




Again, go to Earth Observatory to vote. Here’s my favorite:

Lena River Delta, Russia
Lena River Delta, Russia

Grace and Peace