Agricultural fields under snow, China
This astronaut photograph, taken on 18 November 2012, highlights hundreds of rectangular fields on either side of a 36-kilometre (22-mile) stretch of the Songhua River. Some fields are easier to see than others due to the winter snow cover.
The braided Songhua joins with the Amur River about 40 kilometres (25 miles) downstream, at the border with Russia. Numerous villages also appear as small gray polygons. Broad floodplains can be recognised on both sides of the river, occupied by fewer fields and almost no villages.
The town of Suibing stands out as a larger gray patch on the banks of the river. A significant 300 metre-high hill south of the river throws midmorning shadows. The region is one of the most heavily cultivated in northeastern China, with corn, soybeans, and sorghum being major crops. The areas of varying whiteness cover may correlate with zones of different crops and forest cover (for example, on the hill in the centre part of the image). The degree to which fallow fields are cleared of vegetation may also affect the apparent snow brightness.
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Credit: NASA Earth Observatory