Although 75% of the planet is a relatively unchanging ocean of blue, the remaining 25% of Earth's surface is a dynamic green. Data from the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite is able to show these subtle differences in greenness using the Visible-Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on board the satellite. This dataset highlights our ever-changing planet in real-time, using a highly detailed vegetation index data from the satellite, developed by scientists at NOAA.
The darkest green areas are the lushest in vegetation and absorb the most visible sunlight, while the pale colors are sparse in vegetation cover either due to snow, drought, rock, or urban areas. VIIRS detects changes in the reflection of visible light, producing images that measure changes to vegetation over time. There is one image from the satellite data for every week in the last year for this animations.
The VIIRS measures vegetation at four times the resolution compared to earlier satellite instruments, resulting in greater clarity and definition of the final imagery. This vegetation data will be incorporated into many NDVI-based products and services, including weather and environmental prediction models, and the U.S. Drought Monitor. Additionally, NOAA's vegetation data are used by other organizations and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Geological Survey for agricultural predictions and assessments.