California’s Super Bloom in satellite imagery

We recently came across this interesting article which features imagery from satellite imaging company Planet, showing the flower blooms in California between December 2016 and March 2017. Although the region normally goes through an annual change, this year was especially dramatic due to heavy rains after years of drought. The article shows before and afters using imagery from Planet’s Planet Explorer Beta.

We thought it would be interesting to also check Landsat and Sentinel-2 imagery of the region.
We used our Landsat animations and Sentinel-2 animations KML files to find the best images.

Here is a ‘before and after’ using Landsat thumbnail images as provided on Amazon Web Services. This is an area just north of Los Angeles and we can see how much greener it is. However, the latest image is from late February and it seems the main flower bloom was in March.

before
after

Landsat thumbnail comparison: August 14th, 2015 vs February 24th, 2017.

So, we also downloaded Sentinel-2 imagery of the region and processed it at full resolution. Here is just a small area showing a yellow flower bloom:

before
after

Sentinel-2 imagery comparison: July 31st, 2016 vs March 28th, 2017. Copernicus Sentinel data, 2017.

And here is a region with some purple:

before
after

Sentinel-2 imagery comparison: July 31st, 2016 vs March 28th, 2017. Copernicus Sentinel data, 2017.

You can also see a portion of the Sentinel-2 image from March 28th, 2017 in Google Earth using this KML file. There is no need for a comparison image as the default imagery in Google Earth is sufficient.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.




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