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Elkhart, Kansas

As our journey continues to the west, the terrain slowly rises in elevation and local hilly surfaces, often with low scarps, begin to appear. In this next scene,

Color Landsat image of the Great Plains of southwestern Kansas, October.

also acquired in October, we are now over the Great Plains of southwestern Kansas. During fall and winter, the ground has a grayish-brown look that intensifies even further to the west in Colorado. This is also evident in parts of this scene, wherever farm crops have not blotted out their underlying soils (i.e., currently fallow), or the natural surfaces are not converted to agriculture. An example occurs in the lower left corner where the Cimarron River has developed gullied badlands (dendritic drainage) in soft sediments. Note that many farms are square and are often just one mile on a side. These squares correspond to the section divisions in the Township-Range system of land mapping that was adopted in the 19th century in the United States. Near the upper right corner are clusters of circular pivot-irrigation fields, similar to those we showed in Section 3. These fields lie along the Arkansas River just to the west of the largest town in this part of the state, Garden City. As a generalization, the Great Plains scene appears similar to the Interior Lowlands scene, both of whch, are dominatedby farmland. On the ground, the Kansas landscape has a more western look because of the semi-desert vegetation, including grasses and sage-like shrubs. There is more red in the eastern (right) half of the image than to the west, becauseof differences in crop type and stage. That is, wheat is more common in the western part of the image, and according to the harvesting schedule, the higher and somewhat cooler western lands had been culled earlier in the Fall.

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Primary Author: Nicholas M. Short, Sr. email:

Collaborators: Code 935 NASA GSFC, GST, USAF Academy
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Last Updated: September '99

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