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Images related to Satellites Investigate Irrigation in a Stressed Aquifer

The Roses of Wasco
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The Roses of Wasco

About 40 percent of America’s rose plants come from a small town northwest of Bakersfield, California.

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Drought in the Klamath River Basin
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Drought in the Klamath River Basin

For more than 100 years, groups in the western United States have fought over water. During the 1880s, sheep ranchers and cattle ranchers argued over drinking water for their livestock on the high plains. In 1913, the city of Los Angeles began to draw water away from small agricultural communities in Owen Valley, leaving a dusty dry lake bed. In the late 1950s, construction of the Glen Canyon Dam catalyzed the American environmental movement. Today, farmers are fighting fishermen, environmentalists, and Native American tribes over the water in the Upper Klamath River Basin. The Landsat 7 satellite, launched by NASA and operated by the U.S. Geological Survey, documented an extreme drought in the area along the California/Oregon border in the spring of 2001.

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Water: A Precious Resource in the Yanqi Basin
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Water: A Precious Resource in the Yanqi Basin

Water from the Kaidu River made it possible to turn part of the Taklamakan Desert into an oasis for agriculture, but it has also disturbed the water table.

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Smart Phones Bring Smart Irrigation
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Smart Phones Bring Smart Irrigation

A project using NASA satellite data helps reduce overwatering and enhances crop yields for Pakistani farmers.

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Irrigation in the Heart of the Sahara
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Irrigation in the Heart of the Sahara

Although it is now the largest desert on Earth, during the last ice age the Sahara was a savannah with a climate similar to that of present-day Kenya and Tanzania. The annual rainfall was much greater than it is now, creating many rivers and lakes that are now hidden under shifting sands or exposed as barren salt flats. Over several hundred thousand years, the rains also filled a series of vast underground aquifers. Modern African nations are now mining this fossil water to support irrigated farming projects.

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Klamath Basin, California-Oregon
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Klamath Basin, California-Oregon

The Klamath Basin, on the California-Oregon border, had been in the news because of water shortages due to the drought in the United States’ Pacific Northwest. Diverse interest groups have come into conflict over the limited availability of Klamath Project water. In order to protect endangered Sucker Fish and threatened Coho Salmon in Upper Klamath Lake, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation cut off the flow of irrigation water to farmers in the project in April 2001.

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Agricultural Fields, Wadi As-Sirhan Basin, Saudi Arabia
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Agricultural Fields, Wadi As-Sirhan Basin, Saudi Arabia

This photograph from the International Space Station presents an almost surreal view of abundant green fields in the midst of a barren desert.

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Green Circles—Al Khufrah Oasis, Libya
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Green Circles—Al Khufrah Oasis, Libya

Green circles in the desert frequently indicate tracts of agriculture supported by center-pivot irrigation. The Al Khufrah Oasis in southeastern Libya (near the Egyptian border) is one of Libya’s largest agricultural projects, and is an easy-to-recognize landmark for orbiting astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Because only about 2 percent of Libya’s land receives enough rainfall to be cultivated, this project uses fossil water from a large underground aquifer. The Libyan government also has a plan called the Great Man Made River to pump and transport these groundwater reserves to the coast to support Libya’s growing population and industrial development.

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Irrigation along the Shebelle River
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Irrigation along the Shebelle River

The Shebelle River has its headwaters in the Ethiopian Highlands, and transports water and sediment 1,000 kilometers to the southeast across Ethiopia and into Somalia.

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Water Use On Idaho’s Snake River Plain
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Water Use On Idaho’s Snake River Plain

Natural vegetation and irrigated farmland along the Snake River Plain in Idaho use dramatically different amounts of water during the growing season.

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