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SE Australia Toasted Brown

Posted by feww on December 12, 2009

3rd year of drought in Australia

No Relief in Sight for Farmers in Victoria and New South Wales!

Drought in SE Australia

September 7-22, 2005

September 7 – 22, 2009

Centered on the agricultural areas near the Murray River, Australia’s largest river, between Hume Reservoir and Lake Tyrrell, the satellite images show vegetation conditions for a 16-day period in the middle of September in 2005 and 2009 compared to the average mid-September conditions over the decade. Places with vegetation above the decadal average are green, average areas are off-white, areas where vegetation growth was below average are brown.

Here at the border between the state of Victoria (south of the Murray) and New South Wales (north of the river), mid-September is the height of the growing season for cereal grains, including wheat, barley, and oats.

While the overall pattern in each year is unmistakable—2005 was the last year of good growing conditions—there are localized differences in how crops responded to the climate. These differences could have numerous causes, from localized rainfall to variability in the drought-tolerance of an area’s predominant crop type. At the individual field level, a brown or green patch in a single year could indicate a crop that was struggling or flourishing, but it could also reflect a management decision to plant or harvest at a different time or to leave a field fallow.

The images collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. NASA images by Robert Simmon. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey, with assistance from Dath Mita and Curt Reynolds, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. [Edited by FEWW.]

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