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The salt desert Dasht-e Kavir is located in Iran in the east of the Zagros Mountains. Being the largest Iranian desert, it is a gigantic salt pan whose crusts of salt protect the ground against total dehydration. On the left-hand side of the picture, you can see one of the few streets crossing the largely uninhabited wasteland.

 

Location: Iran
Picture taken on May 10, 2003
Sensor: Landsat 7 ETM+

USGS/EROS; Link: http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/

The Ouachita Mountains in west central USA are more than 300 million years old. Today, they are weather-beaten and noticeably  eroded. The remains that you can see in this image were once a part of a much more extensive mountain range that is believed to have spanned from Texas to Southeast Canada. The image combined information from the wavelength ranges of infrared, red and green. The complex shape of the mountains is characterised by a pattern of longish, folded formations. Between the mountain slopes, you can see water, vegetation, cities and streets.

 

Location: USA
Picture taken on November 13, 2002
Sensor: Terra ASTER
Band combination: R/G/IR

NASA/GSFC (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon); Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov

This image shows a part of the Zagros Mountains stretching across 1500 km from West to Southwest Iran where the Eurasian Plate and the Arabian Plate meet. This mountain range developed during the Alpine orogeny, the most recent and youngest mountain formation in the history of the earth. To this day, the Zagros Mountains have been growing continually.

 

Location: Iran
Picture taken on February 2, 2000
Sensor: Landsat 5, Landsat 7 ETM+
Band combination: G/SWIR/IR

USGS/EROS ; Link: http://visibleearth.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

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

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

These images show the hills in the north of Teresópolis, Brazil, on May 24, 2010 and on February 2, 2011. In January 2011, a series of devastating landslides occurred, claiming the lives of 860 people. In the image on the right-hand side, the light brown stripes indicate the mudslides. This natural disaster was caused by the construction of favelas in steep terrain: In order to build the settlements, many trees were cut down whose roots had been ensuring the stability of the ground. What is more, the ground could not absorb enough water to prevent the heavy rainfall from resulting in mudslides.

 

Location: Teresópolis, Brazil
Pictures taken on May 24, 2010 and February 2, 2011
Sensor: EO-1 - ALI

 

 

 

 

NASA (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon); Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov

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 satellite image shows an area in the north of the Chinese province Shanxi. The blanket of snow reflects the low sun and highlights a part of the Great Wall of China which crosses the picture as a diagonal line. Also called the “Great Wall”, this famous landmark is more than 2000 years old and was built during a period of 1000 years. It is 7240 km long and stretches from Korea to the Gobi Desert. The Great Wall of China was erected in order to protect China against attacks from the north.

 

Location: Shanxi, China
Picture taken on January 9, 2001
Sensor: Terra ASTER

 

 

 

NASA/GSFC; Link: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov

The geological history of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, USA, goes back more than 275 million years. This image shows a central part of the basin. The dendritic relief reveals a myriad of canyons. The erosions was caused by rivers millions of years ago. In the past, precipitation in this region was considerably heavier than it is today. Due to tectonic uplift, the area has dried out more and more.

 

Location: Utah, USA

Picture taken on May 15, 2005

Sensor: EO-1 - ALI

 

 

NASA (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon); Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov

In the middle of this false-colour image, you can see the tongue of the Malaspina glacier. The glacier makes its way from the mountains in the north and is separated from the sea by its terminal moraine as can be seen in the lower part of the picture. Without the moraine or in the case of a sea-level rise, the glacier would come in contact with the warmer sea water and it would retreat more quickly than it does now. Satellite images and measurements on the ground show that most glaciers in Alaska are getting thinner and that only a few dozen are gaining in ice mass.

 

Location: Alaska
Picture taken on April 27, 2003
Sensor: Landsat 7 ETM+
Band combination: B/ G/ NIR

USGS; Link: http://www.usgs.gov

These four images show the region surrounding San Francisco Bay, USA, with different band combinations.
Top left in the picture, the band combination of visible and reflected infrared light results in a red depiction of vegetation and a grey depiction of urban areas. Light blue indicates sediment in the bays. Top right in the picture, the band combination of short-wave infrared highlights the different soils and rocks of the mountainous region. Bottom left in the picture, multispectral thermal bands emphasise the differences of the urban surfaces through different colouring. Bottom right in the picture, you can see how different thermal bands can visualise water temperature: Warm water is depicted in white, yellow and red; colder water is depicted in blue. In the right upper corner, you can see Suisun Bay directly feeding on the cold Sacramento River. If the water flows through San Pablo and San Francisco Bay while making its way towards the Pacific Ocean, it heats up.

 

Location: USA, San Francisco
Picture taken on March 3, 2000
Sensor: Terra ASTER
Band combination: diverse, see above 

 

 

NASA/GSFC; Link: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov

The city of Gandoman is located south of Isfahan in the arid area of mountainous Iran. At the foot of the mountain, there is a lot of irrigation farming alongside a river in the flat plains. Green areas are covered with vegetation, and shades of earthly brown indicate uncultivated land. The dark brown triangle in the middle of the picture signals wetland. The fan-shaped structure of the cultivated land spreading out at the bottom of the steep hills on fertile alluvial fans clearly sticks out

 

Location: Gandoman, Iran
Picture taken on September 30, 2010
Sensor: EO-1 - ALI.

 

NASA (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon); Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov

Patagonia is a mountainous region at the border between Chile and Argentina. You can see that the glacier (white) streaming from the mountains towards the foothills is interspersed with crevasses. The semicircular crest far left in the picture is pierced by three glacial rivers. The crest consists of coarse gravel, forming the terminal moraine for a long time, deposited by the ice tongue. Thus, the moraine marks the end of the glacier in former times and indicates a retreat of ice. In this false colour image, the vegetation is depicted in red.

 

Location: Patagonia, Latin America

Picture taken on May 2, 2000

Sensor: Terra ASTER

Band combination: VIS/NIR

 

 

NASA/GSFC; Link: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov

The Matusevich Glacier in the Antarctic streams towards the east coast while pushing its way through a valley in the mountains. Its ice tongue has been constrained so far but once it reaches the end of the mountains, the ice spreads out and calves into the ocean. Afterwards, the undulations of the sea break the ice into small pieces that begin to flow into the open sea as icebergs.

 

Location: Antarctic

Picture taken on September 6, 2010

Sensor: EO-1 – ALI

 

NASA (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon); Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov