Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey, illustrate the changes in land surface conditions in southern Mauritania. For decades a major drought impacted the vegetation growth in the region. Light tones in the 1992 image represent limited vegetation and significant areas of bare soil. The darker green tones in the northern portion of the scene and along the river basins represent more vigorous growth of grasses and relatively small trees. 

Rains in the late 1990's through the later decades have renewed some of the grass growth as shown by the stronger green tones. Additionally, farmers in the area burn off some of the grasses to make way for sustainable crops. The dark tones which dominate the 2001 image represent fire scars from the burns. The 2010 image shows stronger green tones, due to seasonal rains and vegetation growing over the previous fire scars.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011