As the 2019–2020 summer brought record heat to Australia, New South Wales appeared to be heading into its third year of severe drought. From January 2017 through October 2019, the southeast Australian state experienced its lowest amount of rainfall in nearly a century. During that time, farmlands were parched, lakes dried up, and millions of fish died.
The natural-color images above show the greening of the landscape in southeastern Australia in June 2020 (right) compared to May 2018 (left). The images were acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.
The map above shows Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomalies; NDVI is a measure of the “greenness” of vegetation. The map depicts the health and abundance of vegetation as observed from May 16 to June 14, 2020, compared to the long-term average (2000-2010) for the month. Brown areas show where plants were more stressed than normal, and greens indicate vegetation that was healthier than normal.
Victoria also experienced record-breaking rain at the beginning of 2020. From January to April, Melbourne received around 400 millimeters (16 inches) of rain—nearly eight times more rainfall than last year during this time period. This is Melbourne’s wettest start of the year since 1924. The BOM predicts Victoria may experience drier than normal weather for the upcoming winter though.
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