As a consequence of its capability to retrieve cloud-top elevations, stereoscopic observations from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) can discriminate clouds from snow and ice. The central portion of Russia’s East Siberian Sea, including one of the New Siberian Islands, Novaya Sibir, are portrayed in these views from data acquired on May 28, 2002.
The left-hand image is a natural color view from MISR’s nadir camera. On the right is a height field retrieved using automated computer processing of data from multiple MISR cameras. Although both clouds and ice appear white in the natural color view, the stereoscopic retrievals are able to identify elevated clouds based on the geometric parallax which results when they are observed from different angles. Owing to their elevation above sea level, clouds are mapped as green and yellow areas, whereas land, sea ice, and very low clouds appear blue and purple. Purple, in particular, denotes elevations very close to sea level. The island of Novaya Sibir is located in the lower left of the images. It can be identified in the natural color view as the dark area surrounded by an expanse of fast ice. In the stereo map the island appears as a blue region indicating its elevation of less than 100 meters above sea level. Areas where the automated stereo processing failed due to lack of sufficient spatial contrast are shown in dark gray. The northern edge of the Siberian mainland can be found at the very bottom of the panels, and is located a little over 250 kilometers south of Novaya Sibir. Pack ice containing numerous fragmented ice floes surrounds the fast ice, and narrow areas of open ocean are visible.
The East Siberian Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean and is ice-covered most of the year. The New Siberian Islands are almost always covered by snow and ice, and tundra vegetation is very scant. Despite continuous sunlight from the end of April until the middle of August, the ice between the island and the mainland typically remains until August or September.
The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer views almost the entire Earth every 9 days. These images cover an area of about 380 kilometers x 1117 kilometers.
Image courtesy NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team