“Typically, it takes seasons for a standard drought to develop — with a flash drought, however, expedited drying arises in just weeks. Thus, it’s quite difficult to prepare for them. However, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California may have a solution. At the end of April, they released a study about their discovery of a way to recognize signs months in advance of a flash drought event. Signs from space, that is. You just have to look for the glow — or, well, lack thereof. It would appear that, in anticipation of a flash drought, the ‘glow’ of a plant begins to dim, and it’s possible to capture such dimming with spacecraft orbiting our planet.

More specifically, this glow is not visible to the human eye, but rather can be identified by certain instruments aboard satellites like NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2). According to scientists, the plant glow phenomenon had been recurring on this satellite’s data since 2014, when it arrived in space and began ‘seeing the light’ across the Midwest U.S. throughout the growing season.”

From Space.com.