October 21, 2010 - Central United States

Central United States

A cloudless day in the central United States shows the colors characteristic of the changing seasons on October 5, 2010 when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite passed overhead. In the north, the forests surrounding Lake Michigan and Lake Superior are awash with oranges, yellows and reds typical of fall foliage while the central plains are tan, illustrating the drying of the grasslands. The more southerly woodlands retain their dark green hues, demonstrating that fall arrives earliest in the north and later in the more southerly regions.

Another feature often seen in fall are the numerous fires, marked by red squares, which cluster in the lower Mississippi River valley. Fall is harvest time in this agricultural area, and the vegetation becomes dry and flammable. Often used as agricultural tools, dry-country fires can easily escape and expand. Such fires are frequent in this region although they tend to be smaller and more easily contained than the larger wildfires found out west. The summer of 2010 was a very dry one in the Mississippi Valley, leading to an active fall fire season.

The air over the Mississippi Valley remains clear, despite dozens of active fires, while the sky to the west carries a broad band of gray haze typical of smoke. This suggests that the prevailing winds blow smoke from the Mississippi Valley westward, where it lingers over the Great Plains.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 10/5/2010
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC