March 31st, 2014 by Adam Voiland
I thought the March Puzzler would be an easy one, but it turned out to be one of the more difficult we’ve posted. As explained in our March 29, 2014, Image of the Day, the image shows Nalabana Bird Sanctuary in India’s Chilika Lake. Despite more than 50 guesses on Earth Matters and 500 on Facebook, nobody came up with the exact location. However, many readers (including Steve Martin and Wendy Spiteri) did recognize the shrimp farms or that it was somewhere in India.
I kept the caption to a few paragraphs, but there’s a lot more that could be written about Chilika Lake. It’s a beautiful and fascinating place that faces environmental, economic, and political challenges that are as complicated as anywhere in the world. In 2002, for instance, authorities dredged a new connection with the Bay of Bengal after silt narrowed the existing mouth and made it more difficult for salty water to enter the lake. While the new mouth increased salinity levels, it did little to resolve the pitched debate between shrimp farmers and traditional fishing communities that has simmered for years. In 1996, the Supreme Court of India banned aquaculture within 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) of Chilika Lake because of environmental concerns, yet enclosures known as “gheries” (which are even visible to satellites…see page 50 of this Powerpoint) remain widespread. You can read more about the ongoing debate about aquaculture in Chilika Lake from Infochange, Economic Times, Radio Netherlands, and the Times of India.
Flickr user Adita Pany took the photograph of flamingos at Nalabana shown above in 2007. The QuickBird satellite caught a glimpse of a stand of flamingos near Nalabana in 2005.
March 26th, 2014 by Adam Voiland
On March 25, 2014, we published this nadir view of debris and a barrier lake created by a major landslide near Oso, Washington; the image was acquired by the Landsat 8 satellite on March 23. While top-down satellite views are Earth Observatory’s specialty, such images can be challenging to interpret because of how foreign the scale and topography appear from above as compared to how we normally see the world from the ground. To help make the nadir perspective more intuitive, I try to share matching aerial or ground photography when it is available. The set of images below, originally published by the office of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, was taken during an aerial survey on the same day that Landsat 8 acquired its image. For more photographs of the landslide, visit Inslee’s Flickr page.
March 24th, 2014 by Adam Voiland
Every month we offer a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The March 2014 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what the image shows, 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 200 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, 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 or attend 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 or work in geospatial imaging, please sit on your hands for at least a few days to give others a chance to play.
Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved many of our puzzlers after only a few minutes or hours. To give more people a chance to play, we may wait between 24-48 hours before posting the answers we receive in the comment thread.
March 11th, 2014 by Adam Voiland
How is your bracket looking after the opening round of Tournament Earth? Unsurprisingly, top seeds Global Toll of Particulate Pollution (56.2 percent of votes), Snow Across Great Britain (50.7 percent), and Liege at Night (54.7) all dispatched weaker opponents in the first round of competition. The notable exception among the top seeds was Air Quality Suffering in China, which went down to eight-seeded Something Fishing in the Deep, Dark Ocean in a surprise loss in the events section, earning a mere 35.7 percent of votes. The other big upset of the opening round was seventh-seed Deforestation in Brazil knocking out second-seed Smoke Engulfs Singapore, with 50.9 percent of the vote. Haiyan’s Winds, Ship Tracks off North America, Fires in Colorado, and New Island Off Pakistan also went down in defeat against lesser opponents. Polls are open for you to vote for the sixteen images that remain through Friday at 4:00 p.m. EDT / 8:00 p.m. UTC. Vote at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/TournamentEarth/
R.I.P. Air Quality Suffering in China
March 7th, 2014 by Adam Voiland
March 2nd, 2014 by Adam Voiland
This is not a mine, military base, salt farm, or solar plant. As explained in our March 2, 2014, Image of the Day, this is a date orchard near the Orange River in Northern Cape, South Africa. Thanks to all of you who weighed in our February 2014 puzzler. Reader JMR was first to identify the location, though many readers (including Paul Tinsley and Samuel Blantz) were on the right track by guessing it was a farm.
As with past puzzlers, we had a good deal of participation on Facebook (600+ comments and counting). While you are welcome to submit answers on Facebook, please be aware that I look at the comments posted to the Earth Matters blog first. I have to sift through significant amounts of spam on Facebook, which means that there is a greater chance I may overlook a correct answer there than on Earth Matters. We’ll be back in a few weeks with the March Puzzler.