Earth Matters

Our Top 10 Most Popular Images of 2012

January 4th, 2013 by Adam Voiland

Whether it was retreating ice, super storms, wildfires, or the simple changing of the seasons there was no shortage of fascinating, beautiful, and occasionally ominous imagery in 2012. Throughout the year, we published more than 600 images. Of those, the ten most popular (based on the number of page views) are below. Click on each image for more details and a full caption.  Plus, you can browse through our Image of the Day archives month by month in case you missed some and want to catch up.

1 — City Lights of the United States 2012
Updated for 2012, this map of lights across America has a least 10 times better resolution than previous maps.

2 — Nights Lights 2012, Flat Map
The lights of cities and villages trace the outlines of civilization in this global view.

3 — Where the Trees Are
The National Biomass and Carbon Dataset reveals the location and the carbon storage of forests in the United States.


4 — Signs of the U.S. Drought are Underground
Nearly two-thirds of the continental United States suffered some form of drought in the summer of 2012.


5 — More Ice Breaks off of Petermann Glacier
A new chunk of Petermann Glacier broke off in July 2012, two years after another large ice island was launched. In the same week, the surface of the Greenland ice sheet experienced unusually widespread melting and some flooding along rivers.

6 — Hurricane Sandy
Acquired October 29, 2012, this natural-color image shows Sandy shortly before landfall on the U.S. East Coast .

7 — Night Lights 2012: Black Marble

This animated globe shows the city lights of the world as they appeared to the new Suomi NPP satellite, which has at least 10 times better light-resolving power than previous night-viewing satellites.

8 — Historic Heat in North America Turns Winter to Summer
The winter and early spring of 2012 brought record-setting high temperatures over much of United States and Canada.

9 — A Changed Coastline in Jersey (aerial photo)

Hurricane Sandy cut a new channel and wiped out houses in the town of Mantoloking, New Jersey.

10 — Power Outages in Washington, DC

A potent line of thunderstorms knocked out power for millions of households in the U.S. Midwest and Mid Atlantic on June 29, 2012.

14 Responses to “Our Top 10 Most Popular Images of 2012”

  1. Robert Noll says:

    Will it be possible to view with the naked eye the Asteriod DA14 that will pass near the earth on February 15,2013? Also, will it be visible by earth based telescopes? If so, will it be visible in realtime to viewers on the internet.—After thinkling about this subject, perhaps that that it may be very difficult to track because its velocity. Where can I read more about this phenomena?

  2. Bente Lilja Bye says:

    NASA’s Earth observatory has the greatest ‘album’ of satellite images there is! I just praised your work in my Best Of Earth Observations 2012.

    I visit this site basically every day and find it useful both for work (when I do outreach) and for pure past time – or procrastination 🙂

  3. Tom Lynn says:

    Is number 9 a satellite photo?

  4. Mike Carlowicz says:

    Tom — #9 is an aerial photo from our colleagues at NOAA.

  5. Mahsa says:

    Gorgeous , specially 2,5,7

  6. Honey Louise says:

    Picture 2 has fake lights in Australia. Western Australia is mostly un-populated desert. Why fake the lights, NASA? You just lost a lot of credibility. You can get it back with a correction.

  7. tayseer mahmoud says:

    very important site and very nice images

  8. Chuck Noise Gersitz says:

    Impressive…I’ve been following all year. I love the access to view or world.
    Living in Washington State has been very boring in life, yet the photos you’ve
    been putting out make me happier to be here and more informed of what
    others are dealing with. Thank You!

  9. Poorna chandra gowda says:

    Hurricane Sandy and Night Lights 2012: Black Marble are superbly described in the images. Analyzing the images by looking it is very easy, awesome images.

  10. Vyom says:

    Loved to see my India shining bright on the flat map of globe. Really exciting to see more stretches of human footprints, back in times…the harapans and the gothic cities which are burrowed under the land mass. Wouldn’t it be exciting if NASA comes up with a way to find cities below the earth!

    Once again, thank you for the image… love you NASA……..keep up the good will.

  11. Thiravet says:

    Nasa’s Earth images always make me most delightful to learn more endlessly what our world belonging to all on this same planet is like. Thank you.

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