Credit: Mike Rowe/http://www.flickr.com/photos/babomike/
The ash, other small particles and gas spewed by Chile's Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano were moved around the atmosphere above the Southern Hemisphere…Read More »
by air currents, wreaking havoc on air travel in Australia and New Zealand.
But these diffuse plumes also treated Southern Hemisphere denizens to stunning sunsets and sunrises by scattering and refracting incoming sunlight in a way that favors the transmission of light closer to the red end of the spectrum.
The colorful phenomenon, known officially as a circumhorizon arc, occurs when sunlight strikes cirrus clouds the kind that typically look like cotton candy and form very high in the sky at a certain angle.
The clouds' ice crystals act the same way crystals in a sparkly bracelet or ring might. When light hits the crystals' facets at a certain angle, it is separated out into all the colors in the spectrum. Less «
3 of 22
Arctic Melt Ponds
The Arctic may conjure images of a monotonous sheet of white ice as far as the eye can see. But in reality, that ice is anything but uniform.
The sea ice atop the Arctic Ocean can as shown in this photograph from July 12 look quite varied.
The areas of blue in the image are called melt ponds. As ice melts, the liquid water collects in depressions on the surface of the sea ice and deepens them, forming melt ponds.
Researchers on the NASA-funded ICESCAPE mission (Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment) examined melt ponds, the ice around them and the waters below this summer. Less «
4 of 22
NYC: An Astronaut's View
Credit: Ron Garan/NASA
All five boroughs of New York City -- Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island -- and the clear skies above them can be seen in this image…Read More »
taken by NASA astronaut Ron Garan aboard the International Space Station on Sunday (July 31). Less «
5 of 22
Snow in the Atacama
Ordinarily, the flashes of white in South America's Atacama Desert rise from salt pans. But on July 7, 2011, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer…Read More »
(MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite acquired these images, the white came from a far rarer commodity: snow.
The snow came in early July (winter in the Southern Hemisphere), when a cold front dumped up to 80 centimeters of snow (32 inches) on the driest desert in the world. Less «
6 of 22
A Family Portrait
Earth (on the left) and the moon (on the right) were seen by NASA's Juno spacecraft on Aug. 26, 2011, when the spacecraft was about 6 million miles (9.66…Read More »
million kilometers) away. The photo was taken by the spacecraft's onboard camera, JunoCam. Less «
Hurricane Irene began its Eastern Seaboard onslaught as it approached landfall in North Carolina on Aug. 27. The winds and rains of the hurricane, then a Category 1, battered the Outer Banks. The damage continued with major inland flooding up through the Mid-Atlantic states as well as a significant storm surge in coastal bays and rivers.
Irene made its final landfall at Coney Island in New York City on the morning of Aug. 28 as a strong tropical storm. Its worst effects spared New York, but the storm caused major flooding in states across the Northeast. Less «
8 of 22
Arctic Camera Traps
Scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society placed camera traps in Arctic Alaska to see how the presence of predators that benefited from human…Read More »
activity were impacting nesting birds in the area.
In this shot, a grizzly bear is sniffing around close to the camera. Less «
9 of 22
Siberian Snow Leopards Spotted
Credit: Sergei Spitsyn (Arkhar/Altaisky State Biosphere Reserve)
The cats were spotted at an altitude of about 13,100 feet (4,000 meters) on the Chikhachyova Ridge in the Altai Republic, a semiautonomous region in southern Russia.
In addition to the snow leopards, the cameras caught images of a rarely seen Pallas cat, also called a manul, a thick-furred feline about the size of a domestic cat. Less «
10 of 22
Indian Ocean Clouds
These brush strokes of bright holiday swirls were made by winds and atmospheric eddies moving over the far southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.
The natural-color image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite on November 30, 2011. According to Patrick Minnis, a cloud expert at NASA's Langley Research Center, there are at least three layers of clouds in the image. Less «
The crack portends the calving of an iceberg from the glacier, which last happened in 2001.
Pine Island Glacier is of particular interest to scientists because it is big and unstable and so is one of the largest sources of uncertainty in global sea level rise projections. Less «
12 of 22
Credit: Tom Eklund.
2011 was an eventful year for the Earth and its denizens, from the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in March to tornadoes that struck…Read More »
the United States heartland in late spring to the auroras that graced polar skies in winter.
These events yielded images that awe and amaze, that show the scale of the forces that shape our planet and the majesty of the landscapes on its surface. Here, we take a look back at some of the most amazing images of the year. Less «
13 of 22
On the Eve of 2011
Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project.
On the morning of Dec. 30, 2010, a satellite captured this stunning portrait of our planet.
14 of 22
Credit: Tom Eklund.
A powerful solar flare, hurled into space when superhot gases erupted on the sun on Feb, 13.
The flare triggered northern lights displays for skywatchers living in northern latitudes and graced with clear skies, including Tom Eklund of Finland, who took this photo on Feb. 14. [More aurora images.] Less «
15 of 22
Japan Tsunami Damage
One of the cities hardest hit by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated Japan on March was Rikuzentakata.
The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA's Terra satellite observed dramatic changes at Rikuzentakata, including in this ASTER image taken on March 14. [Video: Before and After the Tsunami]
ASTER combines infrared, red, and green wavelengths of light to make false-color images that distinguish between water and land. In these images, water is blue. Buildings and paved surfaces appear in shades of blue-gray. Agricultural fields range in color from brown to beige to pink. Vegetation is red, and brighter shades of red indicate more robust vegetation.
In the wake of the tsunami, the coastline of Rikuzentakata was totally reshaped. A long barrier island of well-vegetated land, visible in 2007, is almost completely gone from the waterfront. North of that, flood water sits on agricultural fields. East of Rikuzentakata, a large mass of peach-colored floating debris appears in the image from 2011. Less «
A rare cloud formation was caught by a satellite as it rolled across the Gulf of Mexico on April 27.
The formation is called an undular bore, or gravity wave train, and it appears as rarely as once a month. An undular bore is a disturbance in the Earth's atmosphere that can be seen as clouds move in waves. They normally occur within an area of the atmosphere that is stable in the low levels after a cold front moves through. Less «
20 of 22
Credit: Jesse Allen/NASA
The Mississippi River was rising quickly in Vicksburg, Mississippi, when the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured…Read More »
this image on May 10, 2011. The river was at 52.68 feet at 11:00 a.m., close to the time the image was taken, according to a NASA statement. The top image shows the flooded region in natural color. The muddy Mississippi appears textured in places, a testament to the turbulent flow of the swollen river.
In the days after the image was taken, water levels continued to rise in Vicksburg. By 9 a.m. on May 12, the river had reached 54.51 feet and was still rising. The river reached flood stage at 43 feet, and major flood stage at 50 feet. The record is 56.2 feet, reached on May 4, 1927.
This year's flooding was some of the worst on the Mississippi in U.S. history. Less «
21 of 22
Joplin Tornado Track
Credit: Aerial imagery courtesy of MJ Harden, a GeoEye Company.
The Joplin tornado struck on Sunday, May 22, as an EF-5, the strongest rating on the tornado damage scale . The twister killed 162 people, reported the…Read More »
The storm was three-quarters of a mile wide with a 300-yard-wide (274 meters) hurricane-like eye. Its winds exceeded 200 mph (322 kph). The tornado was on the ground for 6 miles (9.7 kilometers). Less «
22 of 22
Ash-Spewing Eruption in Chile
On June 4, Chile's Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano began erupting with the opening of a fissure -- the first major eruption at the complex in 51 years,…Read More »
The spewing volcano emitted ash to a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet (14,000 meters), according to the Buenos Aires Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). The ash plume remained at or above 40,000 feet (12,000) for at least the next two days. Less «