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Image of the Week: Tulare Basin Refills

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Detailed Description

A winter of heavy rain causes flooding in California's Tulare Basin, threatening cropland. The basin was once the site of a large lake that appeared naturally every winter as rainfall and snowmelt from the nearby Sierra Nevada mountain range flowed down and filled the basin. It was even known as the largest lake west of the Mississippi River.

But more than a century ago, when irrigation systems were developed to water area crops, the spring runoff wasn't enough to reach the basin anymore, and it dried up. This winter's heavy rains are filling it up again, and the snow has yet to melt from the mountaintops. A series of images from Landsat show the extent of the floodwaters in dark blue or black.

Growing vegetation appears green, revealing gridded farm fields. Tan colored fields show bare soil where nothing is growing. Landsat satellites continue to provide valuable monitoring for water levels and potential flooding around the world.




Public Domain.

Music track licensed via SoundStripe:

"Like an Angel" by Strength to Last

Map of Tulare County, P.Y. Baker, C.E., 1876

Map of Tulare County, Thos H. Thompson, 1892

(used with permission from the David Rumsey Collection)

Archive Tulare Lake scanned photograph, public domain

via Sarah A. Mooney Memorial Museum, pre-1880