Skip to main content

The world from the view of a satellite.

 

Picture taken on July 11, 2005

Sensor: Terra MODIS

NASA (Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, Robert Simmon); Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov

This image shows a part of the Atlantic Ocean west of Ireland, England and France in spring. The turquoise-green whirl indicates a large-scale algal bloom. Essentially, the algal bloom is a natural and seasonal phenomenon. However, in the case of a massive accumulation due to a nutrient oversupply of the water, it can be harmful. The toxic quality of the algal bloom can cause massive fish mortality and the overproduction of bio mass can result in an imbalance of ecosystems.

 

Location: Atlantic Ocean
Picture taken on May 22, 2010
Sensor: Terra MODIS

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

This satellite image shows a turquoise hydrogen sulphide cloud offshore Namibia. This cloud developed under oxygen-deficient conditions at the bottom of the sea as a result of the micro bacterial decomposition of organic material. Hydrogen sulphide is lethal when eaten by fishes and other marine creatures, constituting a serious problem for the fishers. Above the turquoise cloud, you can see billows of sand that are being blown from the Namib Desert onto the open sea.

 

Location: Namibia
Picture taken on June 17, 2010
Sensor: Terra MODIS

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

This image shows Yangtze River with its numerous tributaries, wiggling its way through the picture. Between the river delta on the right-hand side of the picture and the big lake, you can see the megacity of Shanghai which is partly flooded. Due to the false-colour  combination of the image, the land surface is yellowish, whereas the shades of dark red or brown indicate water.

 

Location: China, Shanghai
Picture taken on August 1, 2003
Sensor: Terra MODIS
Band combination: NIR/MIR

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

In this image you can see the Alpine region below a wintry blanket of snow. The Alps are the highest European mountain range system spanning more than 1,200 km from east to west and reaching a maximum height of 4,810 m above sea level (Mont Blanc, France). The mountains developed during the Alpine orogeny, the most recent and youngest mountain formation in the history of the earth (approximately 100 million to 5 million years ago). The Alps as we know them today developed during the last ice ages in the Pleistocene period when massive glaciers covered big parts of the mountains and their foothills.

 

Location: Europe, the Alps
Picture taken on January 17, 2011
Sensor: MODIS Terra
Band composition: R/G/B

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

After a drought of several years, the recurrent rain returned to the region surrounding Queensland and New South Wales in 2004. Even though heavy precipitation caused large-scale flooding, infrastructural damage and the isolation of cities, the Australians were quite pleased with the situation. In this false-colour image, the turquoise-blue colour indicates the mass of water.

 

Location: Northeast Australia
Picture taken on January 18, 2004
Band combination: VIS/NIR/SWIR

NASA/GSFC; Link: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/

Bangladesh ranks among the most populous states worldwide. Located in the estuary area of Brahmaputra, Meghna and Ganges, the land surface of Bangladesh is just above the sea level. As a result of global change, the population will have to face more and more risks from different directions:  Strongly increasing extreme runoffs might cause floods coming from the north, and due to the current sea level rise, water from the south is getting closer and closer. This satellite image shows the 2004 flooding of Bangladesh – an all too realistic scenario.

 

Location: Bangladesh, Asia
Picture taken on October 20, 2004
Sensor: Terra MODIS

 

 

NASA/GSFC; 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.

 

Location: Australia
Picture taken on October 27, 2010
Sensor: Terra MODIS

 

 

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

Containing 2900 single reefs and 71 coral islands, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia is the largest reef system in the world. In this satellite image, the Great Barrier Reef contrasts with the dark sea water due to the strong reflections of the reef material, which is rich in carbonate. Right off the coast, you can see how sediment flows into the ocean while, once it enters the open sea, its colour can no longer be distinguished from the sea water due to vortices.

 

Location: Australia
Picture taken on August 6, 2004
Sensor: Terra MODIS

 

 

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

Dense smog has developed in the north of China, across Beijing and Shanghai, i.e. a distance of 1200 km, equivalent to the distance between Kiel (Germany) and Florence (Italy). The smog appears as a brown to grayish area. The concentration of respirable fine particles was 480 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m³) in Beijing and 355 in Shanghai that day. The WHO limit for fine particles dangerous to health is 25 µg/m³.

 

The white areas are mist or clouds. Under the smog and along the cost there are hints of the sediment influx into the sea caused by the Yellow River and the Yangtze.

 

Location: China

Sensor: Terra MODIS

Picture taken on December 7, 2013

NASA, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response

This satellite image shows the billows of smoke hovering over West Russia. The smoke results from the devastating forest and peat fires during the summer of 2010. The fires were caused by a lasting heat wave that resulted from the so-called omega block. During this block, an extremely stable high developed over Russia. All in all, 30,000 sources of forest fires were registered, spanning an area larger than 1,2 million hectare.

 

Location: West Russia
Picture taken on August 5, 2010
Sensor: Terra MODIS

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

In spring, Siberia’s rivers are flooded as the ice in the southern upper reaches melts before the estuary in the north is ice-free. In this image, you can see the flooded rivers Pur (left), Taz (middle) and Yenisey (right). In the false-colour image, red signals ice and snow, white stands for clouds, black indicates water, green signals vegetation and brown indicates bare ground.

 

Location: Russia, Siberia

Picture taken on June 18, 2002

Sensor: Terra MODIS

Band combination: NIR/ MIR

 

 

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