Infrared Image of the Sierra

This false color infrared image of the Sierra Nevada was taken by the Landsat satellite. Taken during the summer months, several things are noticeable. First of all, the alpine areas above the tree line appear as light gray in the image. In the Sierra Nevada, the tree line is typically between 10,000 and 11,000 ft. Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park have the greatest concentration of mountains above the tree line. Note the gap between the two parks at the location of the San Joaquin River. This gap can be clearly seen in the profile of the Sierra crest. A couple of small areas above timber line can been seen southwest of Lake Tahoe (the Desolation Wilderness) and at Mt. Lassen. These alpine zones also appear in the vegetation map of the range.

Also worthy of note is the difference in the intensity of red (representing vegetative growth) from south to north. Though the southern Sierra are much higher than the northern part of the range, precipitation in the south is generally half of what it is in the north.

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