Archive for the ‘EO’s Satellite Puzzler’ Category

March Puzzler Answer: Nalabana Bird Sanctuary

March 31st, 2014 by Adam Voiland

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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.

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March 2014 Puzzler

March 24th, 2014 by Adam Voiland

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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.

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.

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February Puzzler

February 24th, 2014 by Adam Voiland

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Every month we offer a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The February 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.

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Congratulations to Dillion and Eric J.F. Kelijssen for solving the January Puzzler the fastest.  The answer is Oobloyah Valley on Canada’s Ellesmere Island. The image features four glaciersNukapingwa, Arklio, Perkeo, and Midgetflowing into the valley from the Krieger mountains to the north. At the end of each glacier, all of which are retreating, there are heaps of rock, gravel, and sand known as terminal moraines. As we explained in our Image of the Day on January 18, 2014, the moraines are of interest to ecologists because they offer an ideal natural laboratory for studying how plant species colonize recently exposed terrain.

One team of researchers led by Yokohama National University’s Akira S. Mori focused their search for Arctic plants on the moraine created by Arklio Glacier, the second to the left in the image above. (The Advanced Land Imager acquired this image of the glacier on June 19, 2012.) The moraine, which formed during the Little Ice Age, appears as a lobe-shaped bulge around the end of glacier. The light brown feature south of the moraine is a stream bed. The scientists found two dominant pioneer species living on the rocky, virtually soil-free moraine. The first is Epilobium latifolium, a flowering plant in the evening primrose family known as Dwarf fireweed. The second is Salix arctic, a type of creeping willow.

See Arklio’s terminal moraine and Epilobium latifolium (right) and Salix arctic (left) in the photographs below.

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The snout of Arklio Glacier with its terminal moraine visible at the center of the image.  An earlier study of the area’s vegetation occurred at Moraine D. Image courtesy of Akiro Mori, Yokohama National University.

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The dominant vascular pioneer plants that grow on Arklio Glacier’s moraine: Epilobium latifolium (right) and Salix arctica (left). Image courtesy of Akiro Mori, Yokohama National University.

January Puzzler

January 13th, 2014 by Adam Voiland

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Every month we offer a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The January 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 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’re going to wait between 24-48 hours before posting the answers we receive in the comment thread.

December Puzzler Answer: The Gulf Stream

December 23rd, 2013 by Adam Voiland

Every month we offer a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. Every month someone seems to figure it out quickly. So in December 2013, we threw down the gauntlet.

For the first time, we put a false-color imagethis swirl of purple and pinkinto play. A week later, we have received many thoughtful responses but no one came up with the answer. The puzzler this month was a swatch of the Gulf Stream as seen in the infrared by the Thermal Infrared Sensor on Landsat 8.

A number of you came pretty close. Kevin Acosta was one of the first to speculate that we were looking at ocean currents, though he guessed it was the Benguela and Agulhas currents south of South Africa. Eric pointed out it was a false-color image of heat, but he was focused on the Great Lakes as opposed to ocean currents.

I was impressed by the sheer diversity of ideas that flowed in. I’ve included a few of the more creative responses below.

“Looks like part of a red algae bloom or ‘red tide’ on the oceans surface. Can be very beautiful, but can also be deadly when seafood gathered from an algae site is consumed.”  M. Lowe, Earth Matters

“Looking at the gas cloud produced after an eruption using thermal imagery probably underwater hence the blue at top of picture. Recent off Japanese coast.”  Duane Elliott, Facebook.

“Looks similar to nickel tailings in Sudbury, Ontario, much like the images shot by Edward Burtynsky. Improper chemical waste is an on-going environmental issue, which definitely needs more exposure.” Brittney Hopson, Facebook.

“Enhanced satellite imagery of a desert area, showing buried aquifer formations which are potential water supplies, GPR perhaps.”  John Munsey, Facebook.

“To me it looks like it is hot lava with the gases swirling with smoke…Iceland…or Hawaii?  Alison Renee Heller, Facebook.

Thanks to all of you for puzzling away with us in 2013. We had a lot of fun looking at satellite imagery, and we hope you did as well. (Missed one of our 2013 puzzlers? We’ve tagged them here.) Looking forward, the puzzler will be back and even more puzzling in 2014. We’ll see you then.

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December Puzzler

December 16th, 2013 by Mike Carlowicz

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Every month we offer a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. Every month someone seems to figure it out quickly. We are feeling like it is time to throw down some gauntlets.

The December 2013 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 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’re going to wait between 24-48 hours before posting the answers we receive in the comment thread.

November Puzzler

November 18th, 2013 by Adam Voiland

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Each month, Earth Observatory offers up a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The November 2013 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.

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’re going to wait between 24-48 hours before posting the answers we receive in the comment thread this time.

October Puzzler Answer: Lluta River

November 1st, 2013 by Adam Voiland

 

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Congratulations to Jaimen W. for solving the October Puzzler the fastest.  The answer is Chile’s Lluta River. See the Image of the Day that we published on November 1, 2013, for details about the area. Phil Echelman was right on Jaimen’s heels, responding with the correct answer just two minutes after Jaimen. Congratulations also to Javier Canete, Alan W, and Juan Pablo Joui for offering interesting information about the area.

The unique perspectiveand beautyof satellite imagery never ceases to fascinate me. In this case, the satellite perspective of Lluta River does a remarkable job of illustrating how constricted and precious water and farmland is in this extremely arid region. But distance also blurs detail. I was curious about what this river valley looked like from the ground, so I did some searching on Panoramio and Flickr.  I’ve included two of the many shots I came across at the top and bottom of this post. The panorama at the top was taken by Gustavo Canales;  Julie Laurent took the photograph at the bottom.

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While researching the Lluta, I  ended up in touch with Pablo Pastén González, an engineer at Northwestern University and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. His group has been studying the Lluta since 2007.  Via email, he shared some thoughts about what he finds most notable about the river.

“The interplay between the Atacama aridity, the presence of ancestral communities, high arsenic and boron concentrations in the fluvial network deriving from the complex interaction of hydrodynamic and biogeochemical factors, with natural (geothermal) and anthropogenic (legacy mining) sources upstream from the place of your picture makes it a prime spot for research in the geosciences.  At the same time, the presence of ancestral cultures, the proximity of the border with Perú, and the push from the Chilean government to increase economic activity (mining, agriculture, tourism) makes it a fascinating place where science meets economic development and policy.

For example, not far upstream from the place of your picture, the Chilean government is planning to build the Chironta dam, a reservoir that seeks water storage for irrigation and flood control during the “Bolivian winter,” the wet season between December and March.  What’s puzzling is that the Lluta brings high concentrations of arsenic-loaded particles that will probably make the sediments of this dam into an arsenic reservoir. We expect that the dam will work as a giant settling basin that will decrease the concentration of total arsenic flowing downstream (i.e. less arsenic will flow through the reach in your picture), but an arsenic time bomb that could be set off by the wrong biogeochemical/hydraulic conditions in the dam.”

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