Author Topic: Earth from space: image of the week  (Read 287953 times)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Earth from space: image of the week
« Reply #560 on: 12/01/2023 10:16 am »
Earth from Space: American Samoa
01/12/2023

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission shows us an amazing view of the tropical island of Tutuila, the largest in the American Samoa archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean.

American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the US and is part of the Samoan Islands chain, situated some 4000 km southwest of Hawaii and about 3000 km northwest of New Zealand. The eastern part of the chain of islands forms the American Samoa, while the western part forms the independent state of Samoa.

American Samoa comprises five volcanic islands, Tutuila, Aunu'u, Tau, Ofu and Olosega, and two coral atolls, Rose and Swains.

Tutuila is a small, narrow island and home to many volcanic mountains. At 653 m, Mount Matafao, which lies in the centre of the island, is the highest. The mountain range, which cuts across the island, is rugged with steep cliffs dominating the northern part of the island. The south is flatter.  Coral reefs create barriers to the open sea, resulting in lagoons, visible in turquoise, prominent off the southern coast.

Tutuila is home to the capital of American Samoa, Pago Pago, which lies on the deepest inlet that divides the island nearly in two. Served by a busy harbour, the Pago Pago urban area encompasses several villages and popular beaches. It also features part of the National Park of American Samoa, where thick tropical rainforest and pristine coral reefs are protected. The park is the only US national park in the South Pacific. About 10 km southwest of the city, the runways of the Pago Pago International Airport, partly built on a fringing reef, can be easily spotted in the image.

The small volcanic island off the southeast coast of Tutuila is Aunu’u. It covers about 1.5 sq km and features the Faimulivai Marsh, a freshwater marsh visible as a dark area on the eastern part of the island. A protected National Natural Landmark, the Faimulivai Marsh was formed from drainage of the low-lying Aunu’u Crater and is the largest such wetland in American Samoa.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Earth from space: image of the week
« Reply #561 on: 12/08/2023 11:38 am »
Earth from Space: Hurricane Otis
08/12/2023

The powerful Hurricane Otis has been captured in this Copernicus Sentinel-3 image when it was approaching Mexico’s southern Pacific coast in October 2023.


Originally classified as a tropical storm, Otis was upgraded in just 12 hours to a category five hurricane – the most dangerous rating for a hurricane – shocking forecasters and local authorities alike. With sustained winds reaching around 265 km per hour, Hurricane Otis became the strongest on record to hit Mexico's Pacific coast. After making landfall near Acapulco, the hurricane began to weaken as it moved inland, leaving a trail of devastation.

This image, acquired on 24 October 2023 by Copernicus Sentinel-3’s Ocean and Land Colour Instrument, shows Hurricane Otis near Acapulco, where it made landfall the following day. The eye of the storm, which is very clear to see, had a diameter of approximately 25 km.

Acapulco, which is home to almost one million people is covered by storm clouds in the image. It was one of the worst places hit. Mexico City, the country’s huge, densely populated capital, can be seen as a brown area in the cloud-free part of the image north of the hurricane. The Popocatépetl active volcano can also be spotted about 70 km southeast of Mexico City.

To help emergency response efforts, both the International Charter Space and Major Disasters and the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service were triggered to supply maps, based on satellite data, of the affected areas. 

Hurricanes are one of the forces of nature that can be tracked by satellites. Timely imagery from space can help authorities take precautionary measures. Earth observation satellites are the best means of providing important information about storms, including size, wind speed and path, as well about features that contribute to the intensification of hurricanes, such as cloud thickness, temperature, and water and ice content.

Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Earth from space: image of the week
« Reply #562 on: 12/15/2023 01:41 pm »
Earth from Space: Icy landscape
15/12/2023

As the holiday season swiftly approaches, frosty landscapes tend to be associated with the magical idea of a white Christmas. But this Copernicus Sentinel-3 image over the Antarctica Peninsula sheds light on a different perspective.

The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost and warmest region of the Antarctic continent. It resembles a 1000-km-long arm covered with ice, stretching towards the southern tip of South America.

The peninsula’s west coast features over 100 large glaciers and numerous islands, including the big Adelaide Island, visible at the bottom of the image. Moving north, we see the Biscoe Islands, Anvers and Brabant islands, and the South Shetland Islands, separated from the northwestern tip of the peninsula by the Bransfield Strait.

Visible further north, Elephant and Clarence Islands are the outermost of the South Shetland archipelago. To the east is the A23a iceberg, currently the largest berg in the world. It calved from the Filchner-Ronne ice shelf in West Antarctica in 1986, but only recently, driven by winds and currents, started drifting quickly away from Antarctic waters. Like most icebergs from the Weddell Sea, A23a is likely to end up in the South Atlantic on a path called iceberg alley.

Thick ice shelves lie along the eastern side of the Peninsula, including the renowned Larsen Ice Shelf, a series of three shelves – A (the smallest), B, and C (the largest) – extending into the Weddel Sea.

Like many places on Earth, the Antarctic Peninsula has experienced warming over recent decades. This warming is believed to have triggered the retreat and break-up of the Larsen-B Ice Shelf, and the Larsen-A Ice Shelf, which disintegrated almost completely in January 1995.

Antarctica is surrounded by ice shelves, but there are increasing reports about them thinning and even collapsing. Studying ice shelves is important because they are indicators of climate change. In fact, Antarctica’s shrinking ice sheets are considered a climate tipping point. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), tipping points are ‘critical thresholds in a system that, when exceeded, can lead to a significant change in the state of the system, often with an understanding that the change is irreversible.’

Using satellites to monitor Antarctica over decades is essential, because the data they return provides authoritative evidence of trends and allows scientists to make predictions about the continent’s future.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Earth from space: image of the week
« Reply #563 on: 01/19/2024 10:19 am »
Earth from Space: Columbia Glacier, Alaska
19/01/2024

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, one of the fastest changing glaciers in the world.

The Columbia Glacier, visible just above the middle of the image, is a tidewater glacier that flows down the snow-covered slopes of the Chugach Mountains, which dominate the upper part of the image. The mountains hold Alaska’s largest concentration of glacial ice.

Since the early 1980s, the Columbia Glacier has retreated more than 20 km and lost about half of its total volume. This one glacier accounts for nearly half of the ice lost in the Chugach Mountains.

The changing climate is thought to have caused its retreat. Until 1980, when its rapid and constant retreat began, the glacier’s terminus was observed at the northern edge of Heather Island, which lies near the end of Columbia Bay, the inlet into which the glacier currently flows before draining into Prince William Sound. This satellite image, acquired in September 2023, shows instead the deep mostly ice-free Columbia Bay dotted with numerous icebergs and fragmented sea-ice.

Depending on the amount of sediment coming from the Chugach Mountains, water bodies throughout the image can be seen in an array of colours: clear waters of the Pacific Ocean appear dark blue, while turbid waters in inlets and glacial lakes appear in light blue or cyan.

Columbia is just one of the many glaciers suffering from the effects of climate change. Most of the glaciers around the world are losing mass. However, before the advent of satellites, measuring their retreat and studying their vulnerability to climate change was difficult considering their size, remoteness and rugged terrain they occupy.

Different satellite instruments now can gather information systematically and over large areas, providing an effective means to monitor change, keep track of all calving stages and quantify the melting rate and their contribution to sea-level rise.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Earth from space: image of the week
« Reply #564 on: 01/26/2024 12:18 pm »
Earth from Space: Snow-bound eastern US
26/01/2024

Record-breaking Arctic cold weather has swept through much of the United States in the last few weeks. The eastern part of the country was particularly affected with thick snow blanketing most of the region, as this Copernicus Sentinel-3 image shows.

The harsh winter weather led to travel warnings, road closures and schools having to be shut. More than 100 million people were on windchill alert. Heavy snowfall officially ended the almost two-year-long absence of snow in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C, all of which are under a white mantle in this image, which was acquired on 17 January 2024.

The image spans South Carolina in the south, Maine in the north and Ohio in the west, with most of this vast area under snow.

In the top left corner, the land around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario is blanketed with snow, while thick cloud blocks most of our view over the lakes. The snow-clad Appalachian Mountains are clearly visible stretching across the image from southwest to northeast, almost drawing a separation line between the white landscape and the snow-free area in the bottom of the image.

Along the coast, different colours tint the ocean water. The colour variation is down to different concentrations of sediment and algae: light blue to green denotes a higher concentration and dark blue indicates deeper waters where suspended material is more dilute.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Earth from space: image of the week
« Reply #565 on: 02/02/2024 09:40 am »
Earth from Space: Dubai
02/02/2024

This false-colour image acquired by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission shows the city of Dubai and its surroundings in the United Arab Emirates.

Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Located southeast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai lies within the Arabian Desert. Identified as one of the fastest growing cities, Dubai has grown from covering only 54 sq km in 1975 to 977 sq km in 2015. 

Dubai’s artificial islands along the coast are clear to see. The most iconic are the two massive palm-shaped islands, Palm Jebel Ali, which is the larger, and Palm Jumeirah, about 15 km east. Further north are the World Islands – a collection of 300 islets shaped into the continents of the world and surrounded by an oval-shaped breakwater.

The fork-shaped structure adjacent to Palm Jebel Ali is the busy commercial port of Jebel Ali, which is itself artificial and reputedly the largest human-made harbour in the world.

The network of artificial islands that has reshaped this segment of the Gulf coast is the world's largest land reclamation effort. The relatively shallow depth of the Gulf and the wide continental shelf off the Dubai coast made the construction of these wonders possible.

In this image, which was captured on 23 January 2024, information from Copernicus Sentinel-2’s near-infrared channel has been used to highlight vegetation in bright red and water bodies in different shades of blue.

Deeper water bodies, such as the Gulf and Dubai Creek – the natural saltwater inlet snaking through Downtown Dubai – are visible in dark blue, while lakes and lagoons appear in electric blue.

The red vegetated areas dotted throughout mainly denote golf courses, gardens, parks and agricultural fields. These fields use traditional and centre-pivot irrigation systems that are easy to spot from their circular shape.

Colour variations in the image represent different types of surface. Sand dunes in shades of yellow are prevalent in the centre while rugged terrain and mountainous rims spread out in brown across the right of the image.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Earth from space: image of the week
« Reply #566 on: 02/16/2024 12:47 pm »
Earth from Space: Côte d'Ivoire
16/02/2024

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over Côte d'Ivoire in western Africa.

Côte d'Ivoire is located on the southern coast of west Africa on the Gulf of Guinea. Acquired in December 2023 during the dry season, this image shows the central part of the country, which is mainly forested but dotted with numerous villages and towns, visible in light brown.

The country’s capital Yamoussoukro can be seen at the bottom of the image. Zooming into the larger urban settlements in the image, buildings stand out in white.

Northwest of Yamoussoukro lies Lake Kossou, the largest water body in the country, covering about 1700 sq km. It is an important habitat for aquatic animals and an increasing number of bird species that have been recorded living here or visiting the area.

Lake Koussou is an artificial basin created from the construction of the Kossou Dam across the Bandama River. Strategic for the country’s economy in terms of both agricultural and energy production, the dam is the largest in the country. It is visible on the southern shore of the lake, where the Bandama River resumes its course southward.

Bandama is the longest and, commercially, the most important river in Côte d’Ivoire. It drains half of the surface area of the country before entering the Gulf of Guinea.

The reddish areas throughout the image denote high iron concentrations in the soil.

Like many countries in west Africa, Cote d’Ivoire is experiencing the effects of the climate crisis, such as drought. Earth observing satellites, such as Copernicus Sentinel-2, can help monitor fluctuations in water levels over time and support the sustainable management of water resources.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Earth from space: image of the week
« Reply #567 on: 02/23/2024 08:21 am »
Earth from Space: A veil of haze and smoke
23/02/2024

This Copernicus Sentinel-3 image from October 2023 captures the plains of northern India and Pakistan under a white veil of haze and smoke.

Most of the plains at the foothills of the Himalayas can be seen in the lower part of the image covered by thick haze and smoke.

The haze is due to plains being more humid than the mountainous areas, which dominate the upper part of the image. Smoke adds significantly to the white veil and is a result of paddy stubble burning. Particularly common in the Indian regions of Punjab and Haryana, this practice involves burning the remains of crops at the end of the season to prepare for the following growing season. This image was acquired in October and the smoke here is a result of burning off the rice stubble at the end of their growing season.

The snow-covered peaks of the Hindu Kush are in the top left of the image and the Karakoram range is to the east.

North of the Himalayas, part of the Tibetan Plateau, can be seen dotted with a number of lakes – many of which freeze for many months of the year. With an average height of over 4500 m, the Tibetan Plateau is the highest plateau on Earth. It is also the largest plateau on Earth covering an area four times the size of France.

Owing to the variation in altitude and vegetation between the Tibetan Plateau and the plains of India and Pakistan, there is a distinct colour difference between the upper and lower part of the image.
Jacques :-)

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Earth from space: image of the week
« Reply #568 on: 03/15/2024 10:30 am »
Earth from Space: Vienna, Austria
15/03/2024

The historic centre of Vienna, Austria’s capital city, is featured in this image captured on 23 June 2023.

Vienna lies in the northeastern corner of Austria and straddles the famous Danube River, visible running across the top of the image. On the left shore of the Danube, a stretch of the river can be seen forming the Danube Canal, which flows through the city parallel to the main river.

The resulting island hosts the city’s chief park, the Prater, visible as a large green area. The park comprises various leisure facilities, including a renowned amusement park. Its attractions, such as the famous Giant Ferris Wheel, are clear to see when zooming into the north of the park.

Left of the Danube Canal lies the Innere Stadt, home to most of the city’s famous structures. Their green rooftops can be easily spotted exploring this area at full resolution.

The iconic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, one of the chief Gothic buildings of Europe, stands out in the centre, with the baroque Church of St. Peter to its west. The vast complex of buildings and courtyards of the Imperial Palace, the Hofburg, lies immediately southwest. South of the Palace, the rooftop of the magnificent Vienna State Opera House shows up, while on the opposite side we can pinpoint the Burgtheater, facing the City Hall building.

This image was acquired by the Pléiades Neo mission, a very high-resolution optical constellation, that pictures Earth with a resolution of up to 30 cm. Very high-resolution images are used in several sectors, including urban mapping, disaster response, insurance, infrastructure monitoring and agriculture.

Illustrating the unique contribution that Earth observing satellites offer to understand our planet, a collection of satellite images is showcased in a new permanent exhibition, that opened this week at the Vienna Museum of Science and Technology. The exhibition, supported by ESA, focuses on climate and aims to present the causes and connections of the climate crisis.
Jacques :-)

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Re: Earth from space: image of the week
« Reply #569 on: 03/29/2024 09:21 am »
Earth from Space: The Amazon plume
29/03/2024

The Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission takes us over northern Brazil, where the Amazon River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Originating in the Andes, the Amazon River flows east, traversing six South American countries before reaching the northeast coast of Brazil, where it empties into the Atlantic. The sediment-laden river appears brown as it flows to the open ocean in the upper centre of the image.

The coast is surrounded by a muddy-brownish plume of suspended sediment, carried from upstream to the maze of channels constituting the 270-km-wide mouth of the Amazon. Discharge from the Amazon River, the Amazon plume, accounts for around 20% of the global input of freshwater into the ocean from Earth's land surfaces.

The Amazon has over 1000 tributaries, some of which are visible as thin, winding lines entering the river from the south, including the Tapajos River to the west and, further downstream, the Xingu River. The dark colour of these sediment-poor tributaries contrasts with the brownish sediment-rich Amazon waters.

The Tapajós-Xingu area is an important moist forest ecoregion. However, the Transamazon Highway, discernible as a brown line traversing this area, has spurred urbanisation.

The colour of the land varies, ranging from the deep green of dense, untouched vegetation to various tones of brown, highlighting the contrast between the rainforest and sprawling cultivation  ̶  the fishbone-like patterns particularly visible along the highway.

Light green hues across the image denote agricultural areas, which were once covered by rainforest. The somewhat geometric shapes, which appear dark green and brown, result from forest clear-cutting.

Rainforests worldwide are disappearing at an alarming rate, a matter of great concern owing to their pivotal role in the global climate, and their status as habitats for a wide range of plants, animals and insects.
Jacques :-)

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Re: Earth from space: image of the week
« Reply #570 on: 04/19/2024 08:21 am »
Earth from Space: The Mekong Delta
19/04/2024

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission captured a rare, almost cloud-free image over the Mekong Delta and the city of Can Tho in southwest Vietnam.

The Mekong Delta is a vast flood plain formed by the longest river in southeast Asia, the Mekong, which can be seen in the top right corner of the image. Its exceptionally fertile soil has established the area as one of the world’s richest agricultural regions.

The extensive patchwork of rice paddy fields can be seen across the image, intersected by an intricate web of irrigation and drainage canals. Vietnam is one of the world’s top rice producers and this region is often labelled Vietnam’s ‘rice bowl’.

Different colours in the fields could signify either different stages in plant growth or different agriculture methods being used for the crops. The various colours could also be the result of a common agricultural practice in the area: post-harvest, many fields are burned to clear and prepare for the next planting cycle. Recently burned fields appear black, while those where some time has passed since burning appear in shades of brown. Notably, wisps of smoke can be spotted, particularly in the left of the image, over some plots that were being burned at the time the image was captured.

There are very few roads in this area – the network of canals and waterways are used to transport people and products. All villages and cities in the area are therefore built along waterways.

The large river in the image, south of the Mekong, is the Hau River, a major branch of the lower Mekong River. On its left bank lies Can Tho, the largest city of the delta region and visible as a large grey area.

A large inland port, Can Tho is renowned for floating markets and for picturesque rural canals. Zooming in northwest of the city reveals the clear outline of the Can Tho International Airport.
Jacques :-)

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