There is a strong relationship between fog levels and ecological health, but until now, researchers had relied on limited ground data to explore this connection. Now, using satellite imagery, researchers can spot ecological damage from studying fog distribution.
Fog is critical for regions that depend on it for water such as the redwood forests in California, the Atacama desert in Chile, and the Namib desert in Namibia. The researchers from Purdue University used optical and microwave satellite data, along with information on fog levels from weather stations at two locations operated by the Gobabeb Namib Research Institute in the Namib desert. They found 60 percent higher measures of plant growth during periods of fog.
The team is confident that this strategy could be used to analyze the changing fog pattern and changing vegetation levels over large areas. A longer term analysis of this connection could also provide a deeper understanding of how climate change is affecting fog and how this could impact conditions on the ground.
New technologies are opening up the potential for scaled up research projects and offering a more comprehensive understanding of how climate factors impact entire regions.