Earth Matters

November Puzzler

November 25th, 2014 by Mike Carlowicz


Every month we offer a puzzling satellite image, and the November 2014 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, what the image shows, 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 five days 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 about the geological, meteorological, or human processes that have played a role in molding the landscape. 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 day to give others a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved some 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.

Good luck!

23 Responses to “November Puzzler”

  1. Geoff Thiemann says:

    I think I’ve found it!
    Namibia: Lat -23.199109, Long 14.682844

    The strong contrast between the sand dunes to the West of the river and the flats to the East made me think it was Namib Desert, I then just followed the Kuiseb River along Google Earth till I (hopefully) found the right spot?

  2. Alexandre Mathieu says:

    It seems to be along the path of the Kuiseb river (Namibia), but don’t know where exatly.
    I will search for further infos and details about the exact location…

  3. Alexandre Mathieu says:

    Ok, i think i found the right location, below are the coordinates (from Google Earth) :

    Lat : -23.205976°
    Long : 14.706359°

    The image is a zoom on the downstream part of the Kuiseb river. The location is between Edoseb (upstream) and Rooibank (downstream).
    We could divide the image in three parts :
    – left : Namibia desert
    – middle : Kuiseb alluvial plain
    – right : an arid flat area. Upstream this part at the right of the river is a mountainous area but in the image it just looks like a flat desert without sand dunes at the opposite of the left area.

  4. Alexandre Mathieu says:

    One last comment.

    The sand dunes on the left side seem to be shaped by stong winds but stopped by the river.
    Looking backward into others Google Earth imagery shows that the river does not seem to reach the sea all the year, may be due to the large amount of deposits from the dunes, but only during flooding events.

  5. Kevin Ivy says:

    Nazareth lines, Peru?

  6. Rex Crawford says:

    A dry river along the edge of the red desert dunes in central Austrailia

  7. Elisa Barrett says:

    I am going to guess it is the Sutlej River that borders on China where the forests support the Giant Panda. I think The glacier to the right in the picture supports the boreal forest with a desert region to the left.

  8. Daniel says:


  9. Beatriz says:

    desert, river, Nile River and desert.

  10. Jay Kernel says:

    It’s a picture of the Grand Canyon, a tourist site where icebergs once melted or something. And the reason it’s an interesting photo is because this is the segment of the Grand Canyon that’s filled almost completely with ants. Rare photo, well done.
    – Jay

  11. Gilles Mazet-Roux says:

    It is River Kuiseb in Namibia

    It is an ephemeral river but when it flows, it helps stopping the sand dunes to move further north.


  12. Mahmoud El-Sherbiny says:

    Athabasca sand dunes,The Athabasca Sand Dunes are estimated to be approximately 8,000 years old, formed near the end of the Last glacial period.[2] As glaciers receded, meltwater washed enormous quantities of sand, silt and sediment from local sandstone into Lake Athabasca, whose water level was at the time much higher than currently.

  13. S Proud says:

    Southern Morocco on the road to Zagora. Not sure of the sensor, maybe Landsat?

  14. Jay Kelner says:

    It appears the image shows the flow of the Kuiseb River in Namibia. It was probably taken by EO-1? On either side of it is the Namib Desert. This is likely just a couple miles away from where the Kuiseb flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

    • Jay Kelner says:

      Definitely mention that I’m from Truman State University if I got this right! Thanks 🙂

      • Jay Kelner says:

        Make that a few miles away! And if I had to guess I would say this image was taken in Spring of 2011. That’s all I’ve got!

  15. Jonathan Aul says:

    I’m going to guess right about here, a mile or so upstream from Rooibank, Namibia, on the Kuiseb River:

  16. Maruthi says:

    The answer is Namib-Naukluft National Park, 23.2069, 14.6775,

  17. hooshang kazemian says:

    Amu darya river Uzbekistan.

  18. Maruthi says:

    It is in Namibia, near Namib-Naukluft National park , Kuiseb River -23.207416, 14.677338

  19. Dorotea Marcella says:


  20. Andrzej Szuksztul says:

    Aonin Camp, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia, Southern Africa. Namib Erg desert dunes visible to the bottom-left, Kuiseb River flowing bottom-right to upper-left of the picture, which is oriented north-up, nort-east of the river a local road to Walvis Bay visible. Image taken early in the morning, sand dunes being lit from the east.
    Namib dune field is home to one of the tallest sand dunes in the world and surely among the most spectacular there are.