Terra MODIS false color image of California, 7 March 2004.
False-color images often allow us to see details not readily apparent in true-color images. This false-color image of California helps flooding around the upper Sacramento river in northern California to stand out in dark blue and black colors. In the true-color version, the flooding is much more difficult to make out.
Though easy to pick out in the true-color version, snow and vegetation are also very prominent in false-color. Snow coats the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east of California's central valleys, marches down the Coast Ranges to the northwest of the flooding, and is scattered across the high-altitude deserts of Nevada. These snows appear bright turquoise against the shocking greens and subdued tans of snow-free land. Clouds appear white and light blue. Also showing more clearly are bright red-orange burn scars from large fires that tore through southern California in the fire season of 2003.
Text and image courtesy of NASA's MODIS Land Rapid Response Team.