Earth Matters

June Puzzler

June 15th, 2021 by Kathryn Hansen

UPDATE — This puzzling image shows the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta in colorful transition. See the full image and story in our Image of the Day, published on June 21. 

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The June 2021 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what we are looking at, where it is, and why it is interesting.

How to answer. You can use a few words or several paragraphs. You might simply tell us the location, 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 feature. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy, tell us about it.

The prize. We cannot 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 first person to correctly identify the image at the bottom of this blog post. We also may recognize readers who offer the most interesting tidbits of information about the geological, meteorological, or human processes that have shaped the landscape. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for or attend an institution that you would like to recognize, please mention that as well.

Recent winners. If you’ve won the puzzler in the past few months, or if you work in geospatial imaging, please hold your answer for at least a day to give less experienced readers a chance.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved some puzzlers after a few minutes. To give more people a chance, we may wait 24 to 48 hours before posting comments. Good luck!

17 Responses to “June Puzzler”

  1. Mukti says:

    Seaweed or marine algae.
    Place : Somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

  2. Emily C says:

    I’m guessing it’s the Okavango Delta after it got slimed at the Kid’s Choice Awards.

  3. Chandima Viraj says:

    Sundarban delta, Bangladesh

  4. Michael P Totten says:

    The Sundarbans in Bangladesh.

  5. Lawrence Vulis says:

    This is the very northern lobe of the modern Yukon Delta. Judging by the coloring of the image, we can assume this is a Landsat image. Given the swath width and the absence of striping, this is most likely a Landsat 8 image.

    The colors are a clear image this indicator was taken sometime in late June post snowmelt flooding. The dark spots represent deeply inundated wetlands, the green vegetation, and the brownish colors sediment. Inundation decreases rapidly over the summer and those wetlands transition to vegetated or unvegetated land cover by the end of August.

    The brown colors adjacent to some channels show an absence of vegetation. This may be due to scour of the banks following the spring flood, although on other parts of the delta we may observe richer vegetation closer to channels.

    The green to brown transition in the northwest likely shows the switch from vegetated to non-vegetated land, which is either associated with the presence of a strong tidal regime or an indicator of landfast (i.e. bound to the land) sea ice. Early work in the 1980’s by Dupre et al. called that the ice-dominated zone.

    The Yukon and other arctic deltas are though to be particularly vulnerable to climate change due to the roles of permafrost and ice in shaping these deltas. River ice is hypothesized to lead to higher flood peaks and therefore more sediment deposition adjacent to banks, and loss of river ice could change future flood regimes (Lauzon et al. 2019, Piliouras et al. 2021). The presence of river ice may also result in preferential flow through the widest channel which presumably thaws out first during the spring. This drives a positive feedback to widen the widest channel (Piliouras et al. 2020). Ice-rich permafrost supports the growth of thermokarst lakes (Vulis et al. 2020, and preprint by Vulis et al. 2021). For other excellent examples see the Yana, Mackenzie, and Indigirka river deltas. There is active research underway at Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of Colorado Boulder, and University of California Irvine to better understand how climate change will affect these deltas.

  6. Sherry Roberts says:

    The photo is of the headwaters of the Ganges River in India, sacred river to Hindus, worshiped as the Mother Ganga. Not only does it provide fresh drinking water to millions of people, the river is also used for fishing, irrigation, and bathing. Recently, many bodies of Covid victims have been found in the river as funeral pyres line the banks. 🙁

  7. @bloop76331039 says:

    Fires in Chile 2017

  8. Tanmoy Kanti Sahoo says:

    Lena Delta, Russia.

  9. Gerald R. Elliott says:

    Nile river delta.

  10. Jack N says:

    Egypt maybe showing the end of the nile River showing water

  11. sarah Feuer says:

    Japan, mountains & rivers

  12. Andrew Lovatt says:

    Mississippi Delta, with some canals showing up in the image.
    Green shows new growth due to spring blooming.

  13. CanL says:

    “Northern lobe of the Yukon Delta” as stated by Lawrence Vulis.
    SWIR/NIR band combo

  14. Jim Sansone says:

    Peet bogs in Ireland?

  15. Maura says:

    The Sudd – pre wildfires.

  16. George Morgan says:

    Looks like asparagus ferns.

  17. Auntie Em says:

    The Sudd in wetter days. In lower
    Sudan, it is formed by a part of the
    white Nile.