NASA shows how Hurricane Irma changed the Caribbean's look
Hurricane Irma took its toll, even changing the overall appearance of islands such as Barbuda. But an ecologist tells the space agency the trees will recover.
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"Most of the green to brown is the loss of green leaves because they were blown off," Tanner said. "Native vegetation on these islands has been through hundreds of hurricanes since the last major change of climate (10,000 years ago, the end of the most recent ice age) and have been naturally selected to lose leaves and small branches and re-sprout. I doubt if it is mud since the fairly heavy rain will have washed that off."
Tanner says the re-greening of the islands will take about six months. But some small portions of the Caribbean islands will have a tougher recovery.
"Salt water from storm surge may have killed trees whose roots were inundated with it," he said. "Those trees will take much longer to recover because the soil will need to be desalinated naturally by rain, and seeds will have to germinate and grow. The areas involved are not likely to be large -- a fringing zone of a few hundred hectares in some places."
Earlier in the month, ISS commander and astronaut Randy Bresnik shared sobering images of Hurricanes Irma and Jose as seen from space.