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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/

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

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

In comparing these two images, you get an idea of the rapid growth of Las Vegas, Nevada, between 1973 and 2002. Las Vegas is one of the fastest-growing US cities. Its high immigration rate and its areal extent have a negative effect on the water budget of this arid region. In order to solve this problem, politicians intervened: It is now forbidden to build new swimming pools, fountains must be operated using wastewater and the lawn can only be watered at certain days of the week.

 

Location: Las Vegas, USA
Pictures taken on June 10, 1973 and June 10, 2002
Sensors: Landsat 5 and Landsat 7

 

 

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

The city of Brasilia was planned from scratch by architect Oscar Niemeyer and urban planner Lucio Costa. It formally became the federal capital of Brazil on April 21, 1960. Since that day, Brasilia has been growing continually. Initially planned for only 500,000 residents, a number exceeded in 1970, about 2.6 million people were living in Brasilia in 2009. In this satellite image from 2002, you can see the satellite suburbs that developed almost arbitrarily in the surroundings of Brasilia.

 

Location: Brasilia, Brazil
Picture taken on July 23, 2002
Sensor: Landsat ETM+

 

 

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

This image shows Mount Vesuvius, the only active volcano on the European mainland. Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 and buried its surrounding areas under a blanket of ashes that was approximately 30m thick. The excavation finds from the city of Pompeii constitute a snapshot of Roman life 2000 years ago: Perfectly intact wooden items, groceries and traces of hundreds of victims of the catastrophe. Mount Vesuvius has never rested and is constantly monitored for potential signs of a new eruption. This impressive image gives an idea of what an impact an eruption of Mount Vesuvius would have on the city of Naples.

 

Location: Italy, Pompeii
Sensor: Terra ASTER
Picture taken on September 26, 2000
Band combination: Vis/ NIR

NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems; U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team; Link: http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.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