Russia’s Golden Autumn

Editor’s note: This video highlights areas of autumn color in the Russian Far East. The image was acquired on October 12, 2021, with the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. The following text is a transcript of the video.

Primorsky Krai, in the Russian Far East, displays some of the planet’s most striking fall color. The season of change here is so brilliant, it has been called “the golden far eastern autumn.”

The following images show an area between the Sikhote-Alin mountain range and the Sea of Japan. The climate here—moderate temperatures and maritime moisture—helps promote forested landscapes rich in diversity.

Skies in autumn are often clear enough for satellites to view the oranges, yellows, and greens of the forest. Here are five highlights of the region’s colorful palette, as observed by Landsat in October 2021.

The Sikhote-Alin

These relatively low-elevation mountain ranges run parallel to the Sea of Japan for hundreds of kilometers. Most areas above 1,000 meters elevation are densely forested with green conifers like cedar, fir, and spruce.

Zov Tigra National Park

Some of the mountain range’s highest peaks are located in Zov Tigra National Park. Established in 2007, the park provides diverse forest habitat for the endangered Amur tiger.

Lazovsky Nature Reserve

The Lazovsky Nature Reserve spans more than 1,200 square kilometers from the slopes of the Sikhote-Alin to the Sea of Japan. Forests at middle elevations contain both conifers and colorful broadleaf trees such as white birch, aspen, eucalyptus, and maple.

Milogradovka River

Rivers like the Milogradovka flow from the eastern slopes of the Sikhote-Alin toward the sea. Trees along these lower elevations are mostly broadleaf, especially oak. However, there are exceptions…

Olga Bay

Named for the nearby bay, the Olga Bay larch is rare across Russia but more common along coastal Primorsky Krai. Unlike most conifers, this tree drops all of its needles each autumn, contributing to the seasonal orange-yellow color. New needles will grow in the spring.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Video by Kathryn Hansen.

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