Views of the News
April 22, 2012 - Celebrating Earth Day - Satellites show the planet's ability to recover
On June 15, 1991, after months of seismic activity, Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines exploded with a violent force. The second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, Pinatubo spewed a tremendous amount of ash, which covered the surrounding forest. Millions of tons of sulfur dioxide were also injected into the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to drop for the next three years. The above Landsat 5 images show the Earth's resiliency as it heals itself after a major disaster. Satellite images like these are critical tools in helping scientists monitor vegetation recovery after such a dramatic disturbance. You can see the extent of the ashfall (gray) in the July 2, 1991 image taken a couple of weeks after the eruption. By contrast, the 2010 image reveals the return of vegetation (red) and the continuing impact of erosion (gray streaks flowing away from the summit).