Earth Matters

September Puzzler

September 16th, 2013 by Adam Voiland

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

19 Responses to “September Puzzler”

  1. Sseziwa Mukasa says:

    Frasier Island Australia?

  2. Felix Bossert says:

    56.834253°, 118.170332° Chara Sands Russia

  3. Felix Bossert says:

    “The Russian Geographical Society” describes the Chara Sands as:

    This amazing miniature desert is located just 40 kilometres from the modern Kodar Glaciers: a striking yellow spot among snow-covered rocky ridges, thick larch taiga, numerous lakes and tussock bogs.

    Chara Sands is a large outwash terrain which formed during the Muruktin (Zyrian) glaciation period (about 100 – 55 thousand years ago) as a lake delta at the front zone of the Sakukan glacier, when Chara hollow was filled with water. Eolian activities during the Holocene era affected the top 20 metres of the massif producing the ripples, dunes, blown sands etc., mostly stretched in the north-western direction.


  4. david salas says:

    wow you spoiled it for everyone

  5. Mark Holmes says:

    It looks like altitude constrained snowfall or a heavy frost. Probably out of season given the color of the foliage, open water, and limited coverage. Other than that, i’m afraid that i am not much help.

  6. Fabian Keirn says:

    Chara Sands in Siberia.

  7. Hellmuth Siercke says:

    This is an amazing small desert in Siberia, Russia. It is located approximately 4 Km SW of the town of Tara. It is called the Tara sands.

  8. Chime Bar says:

    Remnants of a glacier melted due to “Global Warming”?

  9. Dimitrios Trakadas says:

    It is of course in Argentina the notorious Lake Epecuen …a flipped North-South image ..published on your … Sep. 5th 2013 @ NASA…

    City Lost: Epecuen, Argentina
    September 5, 2013

    Amidst the daily ups and downs of the weather, we come to expect certain patterns: summer is warm, winter is cold, deserts are dry, the tropics are wet. Single events—a heat wave or a torrential downpour—may swing out of the norm but, for the most part, we know what to expect.

    However, sometimes there are kinks in this predictable rhythm—multi-decadal variations in rainfall or temperature when “normal” is not what it used to be. Epecuén, Argentina, recently experienced such a multi-year swing.

    In the 1920s, a resort town boomed on the shore of Lake Epecuén. The lake is salty, and people found that soaking in its waters seemed to have a restorative effect. Tourists flocked to the spa town for decades until the climate began to get wetter in the 1980s. Lake Epecuén has no outlet, so as more and more rain fell, the lake grew. After a particularly severe storm on November 10, 1985, Lake Epecuén burst through a dyke and flooded the town. Eventually, Epecuén was submerged under 10 meters (33 feet) of salt water.

    This series of false-color (shortwave infrared, red, and green) images from the Landsat satellites captures the change in water levels that doomed the town. The 2013 image is from the Landsat 8 satellite and all of the other images are from Landsat 5. Plant-covered land is green; bare or charred agricultural fields are pink; and the exposed shoreline is tan.

    The top image shows the town in 1985 when the dykes still held the water back. In the next image (May 1986), the outline of Epecuén is faintly visible beneath the water. An analysis of rain gauges revealed an increase in rainfall starting in the mid-1970s. The wetter pattern lasted until the early 2000s. The third image, from 1993, shows how the lake grew throughout the wet period.

    Drier conditions set in during the mid to late 2000s, including one of the worst droughts Argentina had experienced in decades. At Lake Epecuén, evaporation and warmer temperatures combined with a new series of canals to reduce water levels. By 2013, the town of Epecuén had largely emerged as dry land, its buildings in ruins and coated in salt. The tan ring around the lake in the last image shows former water levels.

    The Age (2013, July 20) Atlantis of the pampas. Accessed August 14, 2013.
    Associated Press (2013, May 10) Creepy ghost town comes up for air. Accessed August 14, 2013.
    Daily Mail (2013, March 18). The town that drowned: Eerie pictures of the real life Atlantis that was underwater for 25 years. Accessed August 14, 2013.
    NASA Earth Observatory images by Robert Simmon using Landsat data from the USGS EROS Data Center. Caption by Holli Riebeek. Rain gauge analysis by George Huffman.

    Landsat 5

  10. Dimitrios Trakadas says:

    PS took me some 45 sec to find out.. was lucky to spot the far down right yellowish green image of the area plus portion of the Lake upside down(North -South)..the rest was easy clicking.. Thanks a lot for the spirit – raising challenge !

  11. Sebastian de la Maza says:

    It sims like a dune area, surrounded of vegetation. The forest helps to control the advance of the sand carried by the wind. The origin of the sand could be from the shore or from stone degradation, i have no idea of were in the world it could be.

  12. Robert Emberson says:

    The centre of the image is The Chara Sands – in Novaya Chara, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia. It’s a tiny desert in Siberia – formed as a result of a glacial deposition during the last ice age. According to the Russian Geological Society, neolithic remains have been found in the South East corner of the desert.

  13. Jana Mueller says:

    Since there is only an image to go by it seems almost impossible to come to a conclusion. A wild guess would say this is somewhere with heavy vegetation, and the spot (although it appears to be desert sand) is probably snowfall. An early snowfall in Siberia? Or…maybe it is the mud left by the floods in Colorado?

  14. Chris Mentrek says:

    Is it a sand dune between some mountain ridges? Something similar to Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado?
    It looks like the white stuff (whatever it is) is draining down some streams towards the top of the image. In the lower right corner, it looks like there’s a meandering stream that’s leaving some sand bars which are the same color as the white stuff; that’s why I’m guessing it’s closer to sand than snow.
    Does anybody have a guess about the suspiciously straight-lined features in the lower left corner?
    ‘Tis a puzzlement…

  15. Steve Shivers says:

    That’s the Kobuk Dunes in Alaska.

  16. Kiran Patel says:

    Looks like Great Sand Dunes National Monument/Park in Colorado.

  17. Paul Sanborn says:

    This looks like a dune field, and the low vegetation could be tundra, so I’m guessing that this is in the Arctic, but not exactly sure where. The main area of dunes in the Kobuk Valley, Alaska, has a slightly different shape (as shown by Google Earth), so it’s perhaps somewhere else.

  18. Jaimen W says:

    Yeagarup Dunes, Western Australia.

  19. Angie Connelly says:

    I think I found it! These are the Chara Sands at the in Trans-Baikal district of Siberia The location is:
    Lat: 58.853368
    Long: 118.149607

    Seems like a great place to visit!! Very different 🙂