18 Sep 2012

Our planet from space – September 2012

NASA’s excellent Earth Observatory website provides some amazing images of what’s happening on our planet from space.

The power of satellites allows for frequent and highly detailed images to be captured, giving us the ability to monitor and archive how our planet is changing over time.

Having looked at some of the stunning imagery taken so far this month, I thought I’d share a selection of them with you.

Volcano of fire

Guatemala’s Volcán de Fuego (Volcano of fire) erupted on 13 September, throwing a plume of ash to the west of the volcano, as well as leaking out a 500 metre lava flow.

The image below shows the sandy coloured plume of ash being ejected from the volcano and drifting gently westwards on the breeze.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the area surrounding the volcano as a precaution.

Wildfires in Idaho

A number of wildfires rage in central Idaho on 13 September, emitting a large amount of smoke into the air. Thick plumes of smoke drifted eastwards toward Montana.

Of note in this image are the areas of lingering smoke in the steep valleys in the area. You can see how the smoke highlights the ragged valleys that carve their way through the landscape.

Dust over the Red Sea

On 1 September, brisk winds lifted dust from the ground in Sudan and whipped it up into the sky and pushed it out across the Red Sea.

Notice how the dust plume is thicker close to the source of the dust over land, but thins as it moves further out over the Red Sea.

Flooding in Nigeria

In recent months, flooding has claimed more than 100 lives in Nigeria and forced the relocation of thousands.

Flooding has not only been caused by heavy seasonal rain, but also the release of water from the Lagdo Dam in neighbouring Cameroon, causing the Benue River to swell significantly.

The top picture below taken in September 2009 shows how the Benue River was contained and snaked across the landscape.

Note in the bottom picture below, taken on 8 September this year, how the river has over spilled its banks, engulfing the small lakes either side of the main river.

Typhoon Sanba

Typhoon Sanba was a powerful typhoon that began life in the western Pacific Ocean as a tropical depression, before rapidly strengthening into a major storm.

The storm moved northwards across the Ryukyu Islands of Japan, before hitting South Korea, taking strong winds, heavy rain and flooding with it. Many thousands of homes were left without power and there was significant disruption to transportation.

The image below shows how well-formed the typhoon was, with a clearly defined eye at the centre of the storm.

If you would like to see more images, you can visit the NASA Earth Observatory website.

All images courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory.

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