Wildfires in the US and Africa, tropical storms, and Bolivian salt flats are among the images captured by NASA and the ESA last month
August 24, 2017 — Pakistan’s Makran coast meets the Arabian Sea where the dry terrain contrasts sharply with the water. Sometimes coast and water overlap and sediment pours into the sea. Once river water and sediment reach the ocean they are swept along by currents. Inland, the landscape is rugged. Narrow valleys provide pastures for sheep amid the desert.
Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni in the central Andes is the largest salt flat in the world. About 40,000 years ago, this area was part of a giant prehistoric lake that dried out, leaving behind the salt flat. Salt is harvested by the local Aymara people but the Uyuni is also one of the richest lithium deposits in the world. The geometric shapes are large evaporation ponds of the national lithium plant, where lithium bicarbonate is isolated from salt brine. Lithium is used in the manufacturing of batteries and the increasing demand has significantly increased with the rise in production of electric-car batteries.
The Tuamotu archipelago in the South Pacific is a chain of about 80 islands and atolls that are rich in marine life. The archipelago consists of coral reefs sitting atop mountain summits rising from the sea floor.
When an iceberg about twice the size of Luxembourg split from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf in July, the shelf area shrunk by about 10%. Dark blue depicts the warmest area – notably between the new iceberg and the ice shelf. Lighter blue shows thicker ice. The large iceberg was named A-68 and has rapidly started to break into smaller pieces.
Tropical storm Irwin (left) and hurricane Hilary (right) gain strength in the eastern Pacific.
In the Peruvian Amazon most deforestation has been caused by small-scale agriculture, according to the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project. About 25 miles north-west of Pucallpa along the Aguaytia river, lush green dominates the 1986 image (left), while deforested land is light green or pink in the 2016 image. Two large-scale oil palm plantations also dominate the later image.
The sediment-rich fresh water of the Amazon mixes with the salt water of the Atlantic at the river’s mouth. The Atlantic has sufficient wave and tidal energy to carry most of the Amazon’s sediments out to sea.
In Shanxi province, China, an enormous 50MW solar station, designed to resemble two panda bears, stands amid farms and fields. The solar station is intended to promote green energy to young people in China.
Tijuana is one of the fastest-growing urban areas in Mexico. It shares its border with San Diego, California and is the busiest land-border crossing in the world, with more than 300,000 crossings every day.
The Irrawaddy delta is the largest in Myanmar, flowing north to south before entering the Andaman Sea. Sediment carried by the water is deposited in the delta which makes the area very fertile. The region is the country’s largest rice producer. Green areas show dense mangrove forests while beige areas show the rice fields just before planting.
Ice covers the Amundsen Gulf, the Great Bear Lake, and several small lakes in Canada’s north-west territories and Nunavut. Icy lakes and rivers cover up to 40-50% of land in many parts of the Arctic. Lake and river ice affects those living in the Arctic as seasonal ice roads serve as key transport routes for many communities.
A thick dust cloud from Eritrea blows over the Red Sea.
The clouds may not even have been producing rain in this cyclonic rotation off the coast of Portugal, but the effect is striking nevertheless.
Thanks to a dry, warm winter followed by more heat and little rain in the spring and summer, the fire danger in the northern US and Canada has been rated “extreme”, which means dry, intensely flammable vegetation can be easily sparked and that conditions exist for a fire to expand rapidly. Red hot spots mark burning fires and accompanying smoke in several locations.
Many ships have wrecked off North Carolina’s barrier islands due to the area’s treacherous weather, currents, and expansive shoals. These shoals are usually submerged but occasionally parts of them rise above sea level. This image shows the shoal area off Cape Point – the site of a newly exposed shoal nicknamed “Shelly Island”. The second image shows waves breaking on the shallow region off the cape’s tip. The site of those breakers is where Shelly Island eventually formed.
Fires obscure most of the landscape in central Africa. June is the end of the crop season and these fires may have been started intentionally by people to rid the area of leftover crops and prepare the land for the next season. Equally some may be lightning-strike fires or accidental fires that have got out of control.
An early-morning storm drops a trail of destructive hail on fields of crops stretching more than 60 miles from Thomas, South Dakota, to Marshall, Minnesota. One of the hardest hit areas experienced gusts of windup to 90mph and hail the size of golf balls.
Pilanesberg, South Africa was once a massive volcanic complex and millions of years of erosion have shaped the landscape to concentric rings of hills rising from the surrounding plain. A large part of Pilanesberg is a protected game reserve. Within the circular structure are a few bodies of water, the largest being Mankwe near the centre. The land outside Pilanesberg is speckled by buildings, roads and a football stadium (upper right). A number of platinum mines surround the park.