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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/

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

The volcano Mount Taranaki in Egmont National Park on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island is currently dormant. Mount Taranaki is located in an area with heavy precipitation and a mild maritime climate. In this image, the peak of the almost perfectly symmetrical stratovulcano is covered with snow. Due to the radial limitation of the nature reserve surrounding the volcanic crater, the land-cover pattern is striking. The extensive rain forest in the surroundings of the volcano contrasts with the neighbouring farmland.

 

Location: New Zealand’s North Island
Picture taken on May 27, 2001
Sensor: Terra ASTER

 

 

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

Approximately 80 per cent of the global water consumption can be ascribed to irrigation farming. In this false-colour image from above Kansas, red stands for healthy vegetation while farmland sticks out due to its conventional and circular irrigation. The so-called centre-pivot irrigation is common in dry areas with a large land-use management. Its characteristic shape is clearly visible from space.

 

Location: Kansas, USA
Picture taken on September 26, 2010
Sensor: Terra ASTER
Band combination: Vis/NIR

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

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

Heavy rainfall in Queensland, Australia, caused the flooding of Fitzroy River in January 2011. Large parts of the city of Rockhampton were flooded as well. This false-colour image highlights the contrast between the brown water of the river, which is rich in sediment, and its surroundings. The light-reflecting surfaces of the buildings and of the clouds framing this scene are pearly-white. When the floods started to retreat at the end of January 2011, it left a mixture of mud, water and destroyed infrastructure behind.

 

Location: Rockhampton, Australia
Picture taken on January 7, 2011
Sensor: Terra ASTER
Band combination: VIS/NIR

NASA/GSFC (Jesse Allen); Link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.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

This image shows an area in North Rhine-Westphalia spanning 30x36 km. The numerous rectangular areas depict agricultural plains. Bright shades of green signal plant growth, dark shades of green stand for forests and shades of grey indicate bare ground. Settlements are characterised by the accumulation of blue and grey pixels connected by thin lines (streets). The three large areas standing out due to their bright white and dark blue colour are the three big lignite surface mines in Garzweiler, Hambach and Inden.

 

Location: North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Picture taken on August 28, 2000
Sensor: Terra ASTER

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

In this false colour image, the Susitna Glacier in Alaska seems like a river fed by its influent streams and flowing towards the valley. Due to the depiction in false colour, the vegetation in this picture is bright red, the pure surface of the ice is light blue and white, ice covered with sediment (medial and lateral moraines) is brown and water is dark blue. The dynamics of the glacier are most striking in the middle of the picture where you can see a tributary glacier pushing its ice masses sideways into the trunk glacier.

 

Location: Alaska

Picture taken on August 27, 2009

Sensor: Terra ASTER

Band combination: G/ R/ IR

 

 

NASA/GSFC (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon)