The Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) is a broad-band scanner with four to six bands, depending on the model. The AVHRR senses in the visible, near-, middle-, and thermal- infrared portions of the electromagnetic
spectrum. This sensor is carried on a series of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellites (POES), beginning with the Television InfraRed Observation Satellite (TIROS-N) in 1978.
Since 1989, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) has been mapping the vegetation condition of the United States and Alaska using satellite information from the AVHRR sensor. The vegetation condition composites, more commonly called greenness maps, are produced every week using the latest information on the growth and condition of the vegetation.
One of the most important aspects of USGS greenness mapping is the historical archive of information dating back to 1989. This historical stretch of information has allowed the USGS to determine a 'normal' vegetation condition.
As a result, it is possible to compare the current week's vegetation condition with normal vegetation conditions. An above normal condition could indicate wetter or warmer than normal conditions, while a below normal condition could indicate colder or dryer than normal conditions. The interpretation of departure from normal will depend on the season and geography of a region.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer Normalized Difference Vegetation Index Composites
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center