Just how much greenery covers the Earth? Now we have an answer, thanks to a new interactive map produced by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that shows how much of the earth is covered in living plants. Using the Suomi NPP satellite, researchers were able to gather a year’s worth of satellite images and compile them into a single high-resolution image that shows which parts of the planet are the lushest, and also which ones are covered by the sparsest vegetation.
The “Vegetation on Our Planet” image isn’t a mere snapshot of the Earth – that would be misleading because some areas would be experiencing winter while others enjoy the summer sun. Instead, it’s a representation of data gathered over the course of a year. The Suomi NPP satellite uses a visible and infrared imaging and radiometer suite to detect how much energy a particular point on the ground reflects back to space, and it’s able to tell the difference between a living plant and other objects.
“The darkest green areas are the lushest in vegetation, while the pale colors are sparse in vegetation cover either due to snow, drought, rock, or urban areas,” according NOAA. “Satellite data from April 2012 to April 2013 was used to generate these animations and images.”
Best of all, the image is interactive, and you can zoom in on your hometown to see how green or barren it is. Head over to the map and check it out for yourself.
All images courtesy of NOAA