Rice Cultivation in Northwest Italy
2 9 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 21cm

Rice Cultivation in Northwest Italy

© Science & Society


The lowlands of Lombardy and Piedmont in northwest Italy are some of the most highly developed irrigation areas in the world. Irrigated lands cover at least 160,000 acres in this part of Italy, where rice is the most important crop. These views of the region were acquired on May 8, 2005, by NASA's Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR). The multiple viewing angles provided by MISR's nine cameras make it possible to tell wet surfaces, including flooded lands, from other surfaces, and they also make cities easy to locate. The left-hand image is a natural-color view acquired by MISR's downward-looking (nadir) camera, and the right-hand image is a combination of red band data from MISR's 60-degree-backward nadir, and 60-degree-forward-viewing cameras. Color changes indicate surface texture, which is influenced by terrain, vegetation structure, soil type, and surface wetness. Wet surfaces or areas with standing water appear in blue or purple-blue hues. The purple-blue areas that dominate the center-left part of the image are part of the extensive irrigation network that exists throughout the plains and meadows of the region. Cities with tall buildings appear in red-orange hues. In this type of image, the city of Milan is the most obvious. The small orange area in the center of the purple inundated area indicates the location of Vercelli, and the larger city of Milan is the orange area to the northeast. MISR can tell various surface features like cities or irrigated areas apart because of the way surfaces reflect light. A smooth water surface tends to reflect sunlight away from the Sun. Similarly, rough surfaces tend to reflect light back towards the Sun, and this backward scattering is most obvious when a satellites views a surface with the Sun behind the camera.The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer observes the daylit Earth continuously, viewing the entire globe between 82 degrees North and 82 degrees South latitude every nine days. This image covers an area o

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