Sierra Nevada •

Contrasting colors of the Sierra Nevada. Although a variety of land cover types in this image acquired on February 14, 2006. The azure tones of the Pacific at the left side of the image are interrupted by the rich texture of California’s Coastal Range. Its home of the famed redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) – the tallest tree in world, reaching 112.1 meters (367.8 feet) and over 2,000 years in age.

The mountains give way to the fertile – and therefore highly agricultural – Central Valley. This region appears as a vibrant green early in the year, but will turn golden brown as temperature rises and precipitation declines, causing the annual grasses to dieback.

The image darkens around the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, as the topography rises gently then sharply into the snow-capped mountains. Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake appear as dark patches surrounded by snow and ice. This region is home to the most massive (above ground, free-living) species on the planet, giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), which can reach up to 109.7 meters (360 feet) in height, 1,486 cubic meters (52,500 cubic feet) in volume, and about 3,000 years in age. The tans and browns at the far right side of the image signify the Great Basin– home of the word’s oldest trees, Great Basin bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva), which can exceed an astounding 4,000 years in age. Also visible in the image is a bank of smog building on the southwest side of the Sierras.

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