Each year, NASA's Earth Observatory runs its own March Madness contest at the same time as the basketball tourney, pitting the year's best Earth images against each other in a online contest. Here are the top eight from 2014, as selected by popular vote.

Faults in Xinjiang

South of the Tian Shan mountains in Xinjiang province, a stunning run of ridges decorates the horizon.


Lights in North Korea

North Korea's lack of development is clear in this nighttime satellite picture.


Lightning in the Mideast

Lightning struck Kuwait in spectacular fashion in December of 2013.


Drying Aral Sea

Due to water control and dam projects built in the Soviet Union, the Aral Sea has shrunken dramatically. 


Holuhraun's sputtering lava

Bardarbunga's long eruption in central Iceland produced this lava flow.


Amazon corridors

The Amazon forests of South America loses vast tracts of forest each year. Areas with lighter shading show existing protected areas, while darker colors are lands that are unprotected and potentially open for development.


Expanding green in the Northern Hemisphere

Earth is a very dynamic planet and over the last 14 years the summer growing season is extending into the Norhtern Hemisphere.


Where China and Kazakhstan meet

The border between Kazakhstan and China is quite clear and defined by land-use policies in each country.

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