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Ash clouds over Sakura-Jima

NASA Earth Observatory

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.


Tacloban Before and After Haiyan

USGS / EROS; Link:

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.

Landslides in Brazil

NASA (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon); Link:

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.

Forest Fires in West Russia


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

Mount Vesuvius

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

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.

Hurricane Igor


Hurricane Igor, one of the strongest hurricanes in 2010, developed in September above the Cape Verde Islands. Tropical cyclones with this basis are westbound across the Atlantic Ocean and can be particularly strong as they absorb a lot of warm water on their long way across the ocean, thus causing a positive feedback (self-reinforcement). With a maximum wind velocity of 250 km/h, Igor reached category 4 status, indicating the possibility of devastating destructions. Unfortunately, this was the case on September 20 and 21, 2010 when Igor hit Newfoundland.