Fall foliage from space

What does our neck of the woods look like from space when the leaves are turning?


Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

You might want to click on the image and see it full size.

NASA’s Modis team released the shot on Saturday, which was taken a week ago.

Sunlight and temperature are the primary factors responsible for the shift from green to shades of brown and orange. Fall color generally peaks around mid-October as temperatures drop and sunlight fades. But the exact date of the peak is not the same everywhere. Northern latitudes see temperatures drop sooner and sunlight fade faster, so color will appear there as early as September. Areas farther south can see peak color in mid-November. Elevation matters too, with fall color generally starting sooner at colder, higher altitudes.

Some years, however, turn up a more spectacular burst of color than others. It turns out that the weather before and during the transition plays a large role in color intensity. Brightest colors occur when dry, sunny days are followed by cool, dry nights. The weather cooperated in some areas so far in 2015, providing vivid color displays.

Here’s the one a week ago of the northeastern U.S.

Photo: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC