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Cloud Whirls above the Galápagos Islands

Credits
NASA/GSFC; Link: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov

The thirteen Galápagos Islands are located in the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean, approximately 1000 km west of Ecuador. This archipelago is famous for its unique diversity of animals and plants and has become a part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. Due to the works of Charles Darwin, whose journey to the islands in 1835 furthered his theory of evolution, the Galápagos Islands have become widely known.

 

Location: Galápagos Islands
Picture taken on September 8, 2010
Sensor: Terra MODIS

Ship Clouds above the Pacific Ocean

Credits
NASA/GSFC; Link: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov

This impressive image shows the legacies of ships in the atmosphere. The white traces of clouds have an effect on the natural clouds: Particles of exhaust gas (aerosols) increase the reflectivity of the clouds which means they can absorb more water. This leads to a reduced precipitation. Even though the use of fossil fuels of ships only accounts for a relatively small part of the changing atmosphere, this image gives an idea which impacts human actions can have on nature.

 

Location: Pacific Ocean
Picture taken on July 3, 2010
Sensor: Aqua MODIS

Volcanic Ash of des Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland

Credits
NASA/GSFC; Link: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov

Iceland is located in the geologically active zone where the outer mantle of the Earth is drifting apart (diverging lithosphere), and is placed on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Here, many active vulcanoes are covered with snow due to the cold climate. In 2010, the eruption of the glaciated vulcano Eyjafjallajökull caused an enormous ash cloud moving south which can be seen in the picture. This cloud brought all air traffic in Europe to a standstill for several days and caused high economic loss.

 

Location: Iceland

Picture taken on May 11, 2010

Sensor: MODIS Terra

Underwater Hill

Credits
NASA/GSFC (Jeff Schmaltz); Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov

The water off the coast of the Bahamas shimmers in light blue since it is partly only less than ten metres deep. Therefore, it might be regarded as an extension of the islands below the surface of the water. Since the underwater hill of the Great Bahama Bank steeply descends as deep as 400 metres, this is marked in the satellite image by a strong colour change to dark blue. The white structures above the islands indicate convective clouds: The land areas of the islands force the moist air to rise and to condense in the cold air aloft.

 

Gravitational Waves on the Coast of Australia

Credits
NASA/GSFC (Jeff Schmaltz); Link: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov

This unusual image shows a part of the Pacific Ocean northwest of Australia and exemplifies the interaction between the atmosphere and the quiet sea of the Indian Ocean.
Atmospheric gravitational waves develop from the rise and fall of air in vertical undulations. If air masses sink during the undulations, they roughen the surface of the water. In the satellite image, this section of the water surface is darker than the smooth surface between the wave troughs. As can be seen in the upper part of the picture, clouds develop above the wave crests quite often.