14 August 2007

A (NASA) picture is worth a thousand words

In the sort of squirm-inducing, unavoidably convincing way that only full colour photos can do, these aerial and satellite images of Australia's rabbit-proof fence show just how profoundly human activity can affect the climate--in this case, the local climate in Australia.

In both pictures dark colour indicates native vegetation, and light colour marks agricultural land. See the fluffy white clouds over the native area and the dearth of clouds over the agricultural area? That's not just a fluke: on the agricultural side of the fence, rainfall has dropped by 20% since the 1970s.

Full details (including this photo) can be found in the New York Times under the wonderful title "At Australia's Bunny Fence, Variable Cloudiness Prompts Climate Study".

For us here at the Beagle Project, this story provides yet another chance to highlight how images from space can inform, even inspire, new science profoundly relevant to human life on Earth.

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