July Puzzler

July 15th, 2013 by Holli Riebeek


Each month, Earth Observatory offers up a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The eighteenth puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what part of the world we are looking at, when the image was acquired, and why the scene is interesting.

How to answer. Your answer can be a few words or several paragraphs. (Try to keep it shorter than 300 words). You might simply tell us what part of the world an image shows. Or you can dig deeper and explain what satellite and instrument produced the image, what spectral bands were used to create it, or what is compelling about some obscure speck in the far corner of an image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money for being the first to respond or for digging up the most interesting kernels of information. But, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a puzzler image appears on this blog, we will post an annotated and captioned version as our Image of the Day. In the credits, we’ll acknowledge the person who was first to correctly ID the image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for an institution that you want us to recognize, please mention that as well.

Recent winners. If you’ve won the puzzler in the last few months, please sit on your hands for at least a few days to give others a chance to play.

67 Responses to “July Puzzler”

  1. Connie Martinez says:

    Niagra Falls

  2. Tiana says:

    It looks like a river pushing ice. The white in the water looks like glacial meltwater. Surrounding area looks like this particular river is in some tundra region of the world.

  3. Tiana says:

    Lena River delta perhaps?

  4. Marcelo Adaes says:

    This is Ice, first I thought it was a melting glacier, but then I noticed the large river if flowing from left to right, in the direction of the ice, witch is very uncommon.

  5. Larry Rowe says:

    glacial outflow possibly in Greenland. Note dark and green pooling ponds. Very fast outflow either a large glacial undertow and/or very rapid warming in the region. See some access roads, but no sign of large population of people in the area.

  6. Gustavo says:

    It’s amazing image, of us world. New York City? I don’t recognize this.

  7. Kesha Turner says:

    The Nile Delta

  8. Pranjit Kumar Sarma says:

    Niagra falls

  9. Mara Mukdisi says:

    it`s Glaciar Perito Moreno, Argentinaaaa

  10. kaua pereira says:

    esta foto e do mar morto com se devastadores quantidades de sal que nela a tem

    • kaua pereira says:

      e o mar morto ,, e o branco e o sal nele contido ,, por ser de muita quantidade ,, com o efeito da luz se reflet ,, visto somente do espaço ,, e os pontinhos pretos creio eu que seja rocha vulcanicas a beira

  11. Matthew Tooman says:

    Mississippi fresh water meets Gulf salt water. That’s my best guess.

  12. Sc B. McKinney says:

    I believe it is the Mississippi River emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The reason the Mississippi River is dark is because it carries sediment and deposits it into the Gulf of Mexico.

  13. Himcool says:

    its the north section of the earth . the white part indicate ice and water .

  14. Paul Priyaraj says:

    It may be a place in the antarctic region, which shows flow of water as river from ice spread lake or river because of cold temperature the existed there and now its melting down due to seasonal changes.

  15. david salas says:

    to my inexperienced eye it looks like somewhere over north russia, perhaps Baydaratskaya bay or some place along de kara sea, I’m a google earth voyeur so I spend some time looking at remote places on google’s satellite view, this place intrigued me because of its particular landscape.

    the image above looks like a semi frozen (or maybe polluted) river. there is not much more I can deduct from it.

  16. kandala says:

    I think it is some where near to Finland

  17. Richard Taylor says:

    It looks very similar to the landscape around the North Slope of Alaska with a frozen wetland environment. When the ice melts it leaves shallow ponds and braided streams. I suspect the dark ones are water and the green ones have algae where life starts to go into overdrive in the brief summer season. Grey is the tundra/permafrost area. The “lake” is mostly frozen over because the water flow is less in the wider lake bed than the river, the faster flow has carried away some of the ice. It could well be Northern Alaska, but equally it could be Northern Canada or Siberia. I suspect flow direction is left to right due to the way the river sediment is fanning out.
    I don’t think it’s a glacier at all, I’m pretty sure it’s a flat wetland area near the coast.

  18. jayson says:

    i think this is in the antartica, the ice caps are slowly melting.

  19. Anju Charanjith says:

    According to my recently read satellite information I think this could be a “Blue Marble” image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument by NASA’s most recently launched Earth-observing satellite, Suomi NPP. The color green shows the earth’s inhabitant area of Eastern Hemisphere. The sea is getting polluted by the chemicals from factories and causing severe water pollution.

  20. subbu says:

    Siberia near Kazakhstan, i think…???

  21. The Canadian says:

    Columbia Icefield in Alberta, Canada.
    Taken around 2009.
    This scene is interesting for it shows the impact global warming has on the Earth (observe the patches of ice that once were connected to the main body of the Icefield). Even today, the Icefield is continuing to shrink, as can be observed in recent satellite photos.

  22. Marcus Brooks says:

    OK, I’m guessing this is the base of a glacier in Greenland, although it could be almost anywhere but the tropics, for all I know. I’m guessing Landsat with equal uncertainty. And within the last decade or so because the ice is obviously receding.

    I’m struck by the channels cut parallel to and on either side of the glacier. I suppose they’re a common feature, I just hadn’t thought of it. Normally I think the ice would at least partially cover these, so that’s another sign of retreat. Also note the squiggly side channels top and bottom center that don’t link up to the big channel. I think maybe those used to carry meltwater away from the glacier surface, and they’ve been isolated by the retreat and don’t flow enough to have broken back out. The ones that do connect, up and downstream, wouldn’t have been jammed shut by the ice previously.

    I’m guessing it’s flow tide because of the silt pattern in the water and the heaving cracks in the ice sheet. And obviously the dark freshwater streaks from side streams are pushed back up the channel. I’d guess the season is fall because there doesn’t seem to be very much meltwater flow, but there’s no fresh snow cover. I wonder why the lower side channel is more heavily silted than the other one? Is that South? Later melting on northern exposures? The mixing pattern downstream on that side is very interesting. I wonder if the clear/silt striations have something to do with tide action.

  23. Esra says:

    Aral sea salt line, near abu derya connection

  24. chris g. griswold says:

    i think it’s something on fire crashing into a seabed
    or a really hard to read 4 letter code

  25. Howard Scully says:

    My guess is the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, the white being the Flats themselves and the bluish brown being water from the pluvial lake that surrounds it.

  26. kylan guerra says:

    This looks like a dried up salt lake bed with a very slow tributary trailing into it or from it , maybe from a recent rainfall in a desert setting. The surrounding green ovals are what are so confusing may be a golf course is nearby.

  27. Krystel says:

    everybody got some differents ways to think, and i think, that it can be a stream of water, it can be just a paint, haha, or it can be somewhere where there is a variation in climate, where the soil lacks moisture and has snow and a stream of water has come from some place where there is moisture!

  28. mary says:

    Looks like the prairie pothole region around the Red River as it flows toward or thru Canada, although it could be any similar terrain in the the northern hemisphere – they all look alike at this scale!

    Surface looks flat, river maybe flowing north although east in this shot.

  29. Sean says:

    In Yamalia, Russia, the Taz River flows north toward the Arctic Ocean. The photo depicts the Tazovskaya Guba, a 160-mile-long estuary formed where the Taz River widens before meeting the Gulf of Ob. Here, warmer water from the south encounters waters that frozen to the north. The lack of ice along the shorelines indicates that the season is likely spring or early summer. Also visible in this natural color image are many ponds, lakes, and smaller rivers, likely formed by glaciations of past ice ages. Absent from the photo are trees, as this area lies north of the treeline formed by the arctic climate.

    • Holli Riebeek says:

      Congratulations, Sean! You are the first to correctly identify the scene as the Taz River in Russia. The game’s not over, everyone. Can you tell us more about the region or features in the scene?

  30. GeologyDave says:

    The image is centered near 68.237519°N/77.516629°E and North is towards the right.
    The image shows the Taz River flowing into the Taz Estuary in Western Siberia. Just outside of the frame to the right is the Kara Sea.

    The estuary and the lower reaches of the Taz River are covered in ice throughout the winter and most of the spring. This image appears to have been acquired in the late spring or early summer after the river ice has broken up and melted away. The relatively warm water of the Taz River, flowing from lower latitudes, can be seen melting the edge of the ice in the Taz estuary like a warm finger pressing an ice cube. Fractures can be seen in the ice where the combination of rising air/water temperatures and the force of wind and river currents cause it to weaken.

    Streaks of tan and light green visible in the Taz River may be a combination of sediment and organic matter that have been flushed from the land by melting snow. Numerous lakes and sinuous streams can be seen adjacent to the river and estuary. Most of the lakes have lost their seasonal ice cover while other lakes remain iced over. Water colored bright green along the edges of the estuary and in the nearby lakes may be due to algal activity.

    I think the image is interesting because it captures two kinds of transitions. First, it shows where a river begins to meet the sea. Second, it shows the seasonal transition of an arctic river system from being frozen and still to being fluid and dynamic.

    • Holli Riebeek says:

      Congratulations GeologyDave, you got the coordinates right. Thanks for the excellent description of the seasonal changes shown in the scene. The dynamic nature of the scene captured my attention too.

  31. siva says:

    i think it is a water pollutant..may be oil or something

  32. Delbert M. Bassett says:

    Northern hemisphere. Water is flowing right to left. Picture is oriented in traditional fashion with north at the top. That is about all I can discern.

  33. Belinda says:

    Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. Silver/ white is basin, dark brown streak is old faithful providing a show.

  34. Brian E. Lock says:

    Arctic, some human habitation, tidal area (small meandering tidal creeks), sea to the left (not to the right. Floating ice.

  35. Twobitdr says:

    I’d call it south east Lake Vanda, Antarctica. Taken about january 2012 is my best guess. Clearly a large chunk of glacier busted loose and doomed to escape into the sea.

  36. ketan parmar says:

    Gaumukh – Gangotri glacier Origin of Ganga river india

  37. vineet says:

    it is showing impact of human activities on the environment . it may be a pic of antarctika showing the melting of glaciers.

  38. Hari Kumar says:

    This at Saint Michael bay, Alaska. On arrival of Summer land and sea ice start melting , resulting in small ponds on land and river water gradually melting the sea ice. Also seen is the cracks developed in the sea ice, which finally move away as icebergs.

  39. Jim Ingersoll says:

    I’m not sure of the location, but I don’t think the white material in the picture is snow nor ice. I think it’s something like chalk, or lime, or some sort of chemical reaction like a foam. Why would some of the smaller “pools” be of different colors. Some are very dark. Some are various shades of green, and some are this “white” material. If it were cold enough for snow or ice, then all the smaller pools would be frozen over and if the “white” was ice, they would all appear white. And this is not the case. If the large body of white were ice or a glacier, then why isn’t it frozen all the way to the shore line. I don’t think the white body is a lake. I think there is another body of land underneath, or covered by this white material. Either way, the picture is very interesting, indeed.

  40. Rakesh says:

    This is in India. This is something that caused for floods in Northern part of India.

  41. Kostas Douvis says:

    Very interesting photo. I think that the river flows from left to right, although certain small details seem to indicate the opposite. Pieces of ice are flowing down with the water. The ice has been blocked downstream (to the left of the picture). Probably a large chunk of ice could not pass through a narrow or shallow passage, causing the following chunks of ice to accumulate. The accumulated ice forms a “dam” that is blocking the flow of the water causing it to look for other passages to continue its flow. Thus, the water circumvents the part of the river that is blocked by the ice by its sides. This seems to have happened several times already causing the river to widen in the ice blocked part.

    I would also guess that the ice blocked part of the river was longer before and it was reaching all the way upstream until the large piece of ice we see on the left bank and even further. In that case the small lakes on the right side of the river were probably created by the same mechanism but when the ice was gone the water returned to the middle of the river which is deeper. Now the water is warmer and less ice chunks flow down causing the ice “dam” to melt from the upstream side. I guess that downstream it is getting softer as well and this causes the ice to crack. So it must be spring. But in which part of the world I can not tell.

  42. Ecoarchitect says:

    By the water at the edges of the ice you can tell it’s not a glacier, but a river flowing into an ice pack.

    It is the Taz River Estuary, southeast of the Yenisei Gulf, in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug of Russia (Western Siberia). The Taz flows into the Tazovskaya Guba, then the Gulf of Ob, and ultimately into the ice pack of the Kara Sea, which adjoins the Arctic Ocean. Coordinates are roughly 68 degrees 20′ N, 77 degrees 30′ E. North is to the left in the picture, thanks for the hint, Holli.

    The image was likely taken by a Landsat satellite. Gazprom (Russian energy company) believes there are large reserves of natural gas in the region, doubtless they want to exploit.

  43. alex bercy says:

    I think is gulf bothnia Baltic sea Sweden left side finland right side

  44. jyotsana says:

    It could b the gangotri glacier in himalayas, the origin of River Ganges in India.

  45. romain says:

    I would suggest Zaliv Onemen, close to the town of Anadyr, Eastern Russia.

  46. Sebastian de la Maza says:

    Is not the shape of ice, snow, salt. It is like foam floating on the water, maybe the higher tide fill the area and the low tide leave some points of foam on the field. The image should be taken when the tide is going up

  47. Emmanuel Y. Frimpong says:

    It look like the dead sea

  48. Aysel YILMAZ SEÇKİN says:

    Chemical Properties of Water: Water, as well as all of these physical properties, chemical properties are ideal for living an extraordinary degree. We should firstly, the water comes to have a very good solvent. Almost all substances, soluble in water in an appropriate form. This effect is very important for life, a myriad of water-soluble minerals and other chemicals and heavy metals from waste water through rivers, glaciers melting in air, water, soil analysis, which makes determines the level of pollution … REGARDS

  49. Aysel YILMAZ SEÇKİN says:

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  50. M.Y.Kamyab says:

    It looks like the recent flood in china region. the southern water enters the northern pat of china and pushing the Ice backwards… I guess.

  51. david salas says:

    Hey I was the first one to mention northern Russia and the Kara sea, I’m excited to know I got close :) its my first puzzler ever and I got it almost right :), not bad for a google earth voyeur with no geology knowledge whatsoever halfway around the wolrd in Mexico.

  52. santhosh kumar says:

    Hey I think it is a glacier.The ice is converted into water and it is flow from right to left side….

  53. John Fiske says:

    Ice in July, Hummmm Southern Hemisphere. Lots of small lakes around. How about the tip of South America.

  54. Phil Dudley says:

    salt flats southern Spain

  55. dan phillips says:

    Volcanic eruption causing glacial melt. Eyja Iceland?

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