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The volcano Sakura-Jima on the Japanese Island Kyushu emitted a dense ash cloud. Currently, it is the most active volcano in Japan, erupting several hundred times per year. Normally, these eruptions are fairly small, but sometimes a great eruption can form an ash cloud of 3.8 km in height.

 

This volcanoe, called "cherry blossom island" in Japanese and more than 1 km high, is in the very south of the Japanese main islands in the prefecture Kagoshima. There are many other volcanoes close-by, nevertheless, there are some cities with several hundret thousand inhabitants, i.e. Kagoshima directly opposite to Sakura-Jima.

 

Location: Japan

Picture taken on November 11, 2013

Sensor: Landsat 8 - OLI

NASA Earth Observatory

The taifun Haiyan hit the phillipines with wind speed up to 315 km/h, accompanied by a spring flood, on the 8th of November 2013. A water wall, 7.5 m in height, threatened the city of Tacloban which is located less than 5 m above sea level. The satellite image taken by ASTER shows vegetation in red, sealed surfaces in white to silver, soil in brown and water in black. The white spots are clouds.

The puce-coloured hills signal that the local forests lost their leaves or snapped entirely.  Whether this was caused by the storm cannot be examined because this region is often covered in clouds.

Looking at the images carefully, the white to grey areas near the coast streaked by brown lines attract attention, and there is few settlement on the southern coast. The flood teared away many of the buildings and covered the streets in mud. The southern coastal area is partly black, meaning that water has accumulated in sinks.

 

Location: Philippines

Picture taken on November 15, 2013

Sensor: Terra ASTER

USGS / EROS; Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/

Approximately 290 billion years ago, two big asteroids collided with the Earth. The craters are still visible - to astronauts in the orbit, the lakes inside the craters are popular subjects for photographs. The crater lakes' diameter is 26 resp. 36 kilometres.

 

At the time of collision, the area had been at the equator, but plate tectonics lead to a northward shift. Nowadays, the crater lakes are in Qebec, Canada. During the ice ages, the landscape was grounded by glaciers. By the time they had melted, much of the cracks in the bare rocks filled with the left-over water. Thus the network of linear rivers and lakes was formed.

 

Location: Quebec, Kanada

Picture taken on June 29, 2013

Sensor: Landsat 8 - OLI

NASA Earth Observatory, Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/

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 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

In this image you can see a glacier (blue) in Greenland calving into the sea (black). The glacier is surrounded by landmass, indicated by the red colour in the upper and the lower part of the picture. In recent years, hardly any place on earth has been more affected by climate warming than the Arctic: The ice along the edge of the giant ice cap is getting thinner and thinner, and glaciers are calving more and more rapidly. It remains to be seen if increasing snowfalls on the inner landmass can make up for the loss of frozen material at the edge of the ice cap.

 

Location: Greenland
Picture taken on September 30, 2002
Sensor: Landsat 7 ETM+
Band combination: R/NIR/SWIR

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

This digital camera image was taken at the international space station ISS and shows Doha, the capital city of the state of Qatar in the Persian Gulf. Ring roads surrounding the centre give an idea of the gradual extension of the city starting from the historical city centre.
Off the coast of West Bay Lagoon, you can see the newly built artificial island Pearl-Qatar. Primarily planned as a residential district, the buildings are thematically reminiscent of Arabic, Mediterranean and European cultural elements. The name Pearl-Qatar recalls the function of the place as a major pearl diving site.

 

Location: Doha, Qatar
Picture taken on October 5, 2010
Sensor: ISS digital camera

NASA/JSC; ISS Crew Earth Observations; Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov

The Huang He (or Yellow River) in China is the river with the highest amount of sediment worldwide. Over time, fortified settlements and industrial facilities have been built on sediment that had been deposited in the river delta. In the middle of the nineteenth century, dams and levees were set up in order to protect the new infrastructure against floods. Since the 1970s, the river levels in the delta have been falling continually due to the increased demand for water. These two satellite images give you an idea of the modifications the delta underwent within twenty years.

 

Location: China
Pictures taken on July 2, 1979 and October 23, 1999
Sensor: Landsat 7 ETM+
Band combination: G/R/NIR

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

In this satellite image, you can see the circular shape of the high speed test track Pista di Nardò, located next to the town of Nardò in South Italy. Due to its banked lanes, vehicles can pick up speeds of up to 500 km/h on a 12,6 km lane. Since the track was built in 1970, car companies and racing drivers have been using it for test runs. If you are driving at a speed of about 320 km/h, you feel like you are driving in a straight lane.

 

Location: Nardò, Italy
Picture taken on August 17, 2007
Sensor: Terra ASTER
Band combination: R/G/B

NASA/GSFC; 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.

 

Location: Bahamas, Middle America
Picture taken on February 12, 2009
Sensor: Aqua MODIS
Band combination: R/G/B

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

Dubai is famous for its large-scale urban development projects and its architectural buildings. The artificial archipelagos “Palm Jumeirah”, “Palm Jebel Ali” and “The World” are striking. In order to “lift” the islands belonging to Palm Jumeirah (bottom left corner of the picture) above sea level, more than 50 million cubic metres of sand were dredged. The construction of the 300 islands forming “The World”, which can be seen in the top right corner of the picture, required approximately 320 million cubic metres of sand and took about six years. In addition, roughly 37 million tons of rock were needed in order to create 27 kilometres of breakwaters surrounding “The World”.

 

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Picture taken on January 13, 2010
Sensor: ISS digital camera
Band combination: R/G/B

 

 

NASA/JSC; ISS Crew Earth Observations; Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov

The Lena delta in Russia is one of the largest river deltas in the world. This image detail shows some lakes and their tributaries. Flowing through Russia from the south, the Lena empties into the Arctic Ocean far north of the Arctic Circle. The tundra wetland is changing constantly and dynamically. The delta already started to develop 1,6 million years ago during the Pleistocene period, the glacial period of the ice age. During this time, large parts of Germany were buried by massive glaciers as well. The shape of the fan delta as we know it today developed approximately 7,000 years ago.

 

Location: North Russia
Picture taken on July 27, 2000
Sensor: Landsat 7 ETM+
Band composition: R/G/B

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

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 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