Earth Matters

January Puzzler

January 26th, 2015 by Kathryn Hansen


Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The January 2015 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 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 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!


20 Responses to “January Puzzler”

  1. Alexandre Mathieu says:

    This image seems to show a coral reef area, may be an atoll, i would say the Chibish Atoll in Okinawa Japan, but not sure about the exact location of the area highlighted in this puzzler.

    Given that is likely a coral reef, i would search around the equator to find the right place.

    The top right corner of this image seems to show breaking waves when arriving nearby the coral reef and suggests that the deep ocean is toward this direction.

    • T Meine says:

      ^To your last point, since this image was (I assume) taken from space, I’m pretty sure the “breaking waves” you’re seeing in the upper-right are, in fact, the limb of the Earth, looking different in whatever spectra this photo was taken in.

    • Carl Nim says:

      I agree with Alexandre with this being a coral reef, but I think it is the Great Barrier Reef.
      My educated guess for this is because the reef appears in a band running north-south. If the image is oriented to the north (which no self respecting cartographer or remote sensing scientist wouldn’t do) 😉 the waves Alexandre pointed out in the upper right corner of the image would be breaking on the Pacific (east) with relatively calmer waters on the Coral Sea (west). The image looks like Landsat (30 meter) or better pixel resolution and appears to be an RGB natural color composite.

  2. Dan Poulin says:

    To me this image looks like the Amazon Jungle and the Amazon River.

  3. Christine Nelson says:

    The Great Barrier Reef

  4. Pam Stewart says:

    I think it is a coral reef, much like the one at 19°44’50.45″S 149°12’52.08″E. What I find interesting is the color of the water. Inside the circle of the reef it is turquoise, indicating its shallowness, whereas on the outside edge of the reef it turns to a deep blue indicating a much greater depth.

  5. kim brown says:

    satellite image of ocean depth in Asia near Japan.

  6. Ravit says:

    The pic is of the Coral reef over the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef! National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin(NOAA) explains this as Bleaching of Coral Reefs. Making it more simple, when the water temp rises, the coral expel the algae called Zooxanthellae and turns white or bleach!

    The pic is taken by NOAA with the help of NESDIS and MODIS…

  7. nisha says:

    Earth moon light atlanta sea night vision may b is there water stormed

  8. Teresa says:

    Great Barrier Reef.

  9. Steve Nelson says:

    Fog above Amazon river tributaries.

  10. Chris Mentrek says:

    I think you folks are right about a coral reef. (Nice job!)
    My trouble is: WHICH coral reef? How can I tell whether or not this is near Australia, in the Red Sea, or anyplace else?
    Hmm…Time to check some coral reef images!

  11. Mary Ulrich says:

    False color Landsat photo of the ice in Antartica

  12. Yasunori Miura says:

    This photo is ” irregular drift-ice blocks” on cold sea (Arctic or Antarctic Seas).

    Because of global warming on present Earth, hard ice blocks are easily melted to be smaller ice block which are drifting through the surface of the Arctic and/or Antarctic seas. 

    This feature suggests severe global warming effect even on nature of frozen world, which are also serious for human society though it’s simple change on Earth planet.

  13. Yasunori Miura says:

    Irregular drift-ice blocks on cold sea.

    This feature suggests “severe global warming effect” on frozen world and human society.

  14. Kurt Preston says:

    My presumption is that it’s of the Dead Sea. The round or round-ish blobs in the water are the complexes associated with salt growth, having exceeded saturation in solution. There’s coast near the bottom of the photo for scale, climate, and setting.
    -KAP 01/28/2015

  15. Beth D. says:

    A magnified droplet of water on a bluish green leaf. Whatever it is – it looks like a beautiful little universe.

  16. thiyagu says:

    it is a place near coral triangle betwwn indonesia and australia surrounding

  17. Gilberto Guerra says:

    I concur with those who say The Great Barrier Reef. The area appears to be large enough and so pristine. The edge of the top right could also be the camera lens edge obstruction.

  18. John Thee says:

    this particular pattern would be hard to match with the many of thousands of reefs