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Earth Matters

August Puzzler

August 28th, 2017 by Adam Voiland


Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The August 2017 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what 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 or a trip to Mars, 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. After we post the answer, we will acknowledge the person who was first to correctly ID the image at the bottom of this blog post. We may also recognize certain readers 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!

Answer: The image above shows the burn scar left by a palm swamp fire in Brazil along the Peruaçu River. Rather than producing big, orange flames and billowing plumes of smoke, this fire smoldered underground in dried out, carbon-rich soil and likely peat. The fire spread slowly through soil and roots, but it was able to move up the hollow trunks of palm trees in the area and burn off the canopy. Nobody guessed the location, but congratulations to Monica Craig and Lee Hurst for guessing that it was related to a fire. Read more about the image in our September 5, 2017, Image of the Day.

8 Responses to “August Puzzler”

  1. Declan cusack says:

    Is it part of the Danube in Hungary after a leak of aluminium waste from a few years ago.

  2. Daniel Siegel says:

    An otherwise dry riverbed is brought back to life by agricultural outflow, providing invaluable habitat to migrating birds.

  3. PJ says:

    Looks like a river that has been polluted and the pollution is running downstream to the right.

  4. Kathy says:

    Animas River in Colorado, spill caused by the EPA?

  5. Anu says:

    It does look like a dried out river that use to flow at full strength once upon a time. Taken some where in Europe
    On the artistic side, it seems like a large dinosaur and another small dinosaur looking over with wonder 🙂

  6. EL says:

    So this is just an educated guess. I am guessing that this is an image of the Colorado river near its delta into the Sea of Cortez and that it is important because it shows an increased flow to the area. The first story that I found dealing with that was in March 2014. There were a lot of news stories because it was the first time since around 1960 that the river had any flow that reached the delta. The normally dry riverbed had water in it. This photo also shows the main water use of the Colorado: Agriculture.

  7. James says:

    This natural color composite satellite image is part of a Landsat 8 OLI scene. The image shows a half dried river with some water left in the western end. To the north of the river, there are active agriculture fields and to the south, the fields are mostly fallow, representing different crop types. It was hard to pin point the exact coordinates of this place. Nevertheless, if I want to take an educated guess at the location, it would be Texas. Probably Southern Texas.

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