Skip to main content

Where on Earth: Windbreaks in Japan

What forms the grid pattern across this snow-covered landscape?
Credits

 Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/.  

  • NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. 
  • Image of the Day story by Adam Voiland: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/146664/a-windbreak-grid-in-hokkaido 
  • Google Earth imagery from Landsat/Copernicus, SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, U.S. Department of State Geographer, Google, Basarsoft, GeoBasis-DE/BKG 
  • Adaptation to ViewSpace by Margaret W. Carruthers and Dani Player 
  • Music from Music for Nonprofits
Transcript

(SPEECH)
[ELECTRONIC MUSIC]
 
(DESCRIPTION)
Satellite images. Text, Where on Earth?
 
Gray lines form a grid on a white background. Text, What forms the grid pattern across this snow-covered landscape?
 
A, Logging roads in northern Canada, B, Strips of forest in Hokkaido, Japan, C, Fault lines in California's Central Valley, D, Drainage ditches near Bangkok, Thailand.
 
A highlight over B, strips of forest in Hokkaido, Japan
 
Windbreaks in Hokkaido, Japan. Forested Windbreak, Snow-Covered Farmland. The strips that make up this grid pattern are small forests: 180-meter wide rows of coniferous trees that act as windbreaks to shelter farmland and animals from harsh weather.
 
In addition to blocking winds and blowing snow during the winter, they also help prevent winds from scattering soil and manure in the warmer months.
 
The Japanese government began creating these windbreaks in the 1890s as part of an effort to colonize the area.
 
Squares of the broadleaf forest were cleared for farming, leaving the windbreaks behind.
 
Over time, portions of the windbreaks were cleared for timber or by wildfires, and the broadleaf forest were replaced with the larch and spruce trees that make up most of the windbreaks today.
 
From Hokkaido, Japan to the Earth as a whole. Text, Music courtesy of Yesh Music (ASCAP)
 
Where On Earth?