Earth Matters

August Puzzler

August 2nd, 2022 by Kathryn Hansen

Update on August 5, 2022: This puzzler image shows a portion of Nordaustlandet—a large island in northeast Svalbard. The image was acquired after a record amount of melting took place across the Norwegian archipelago in summer 2022. Notice the extensive light-blue areas where snow and firn have melted away and exposed bare ice (light blue). Congratulations to Yoshihiro Nakayama, who correctly identified the location. Special mention goes to Soren J and others for pointing features associated with melting. Read more in the related Image of the Day.

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The August 2022 puzzler is shown above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us where it is, what we are looking at, 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 offer details about 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 on the International Space Station, but we can promise you credit and glory. Well, maybe just credit. Within a 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. 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 have 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!

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23 Responses to “August Puzzler”

  1. Brad Herried says:

    These are meltwater pools on the Greenland ice cap! It’s a vicious cycle of melting (dark=bad) for albedo/reflectance.

  2. Michael Scullin says:

    Looks like Greenland coast with disintegrating glacier and calving icebergs,

  3. Doug Fishel says:

    This is a fat chance guess. I’m saying it’s a dust storm off the west coast of Africa, heading out to the Atlantic ocean. Hurricane season. Don’t laugh, like I said it a fat chance guess.

  4. Yoshihiro Nakayama says:


  5. William G Russell says:

    Northern Artic western hemisphere.

  6. Ross Colquhoun says:

    Greenland in top right corner. Melt-water pooling on ice-pack in Baffin Bay.

  7. Jim Murrain says:

    Melt water under a Greenland glacier.

  8. Chris Thomas says:

    Rotten sea ice in high arctic summer

  9. Michael LaBrecque says:

    Deteriorating icepack

  10. Rogelio Dela rida Jr. says:

    Gas resources.

  11. Janet says:

    I think the photo is showing melting ice in the Arctic Circle. The darker color in lower right is land and the white in upper left is solid ice. The area in the middle is ocean water with a few floating ice sheets.

  12. Pietro Gervasini says:

    It looks like a glacier that is melting. The white area is the frozeen side, while the coloured areas are showing the dusty ice that is melting. Antartica region

  13. Jo Ann S says:

    It looks like a melting glacier? Not sure where…maybe Greenland? If so, it’s important information about effects of global warming.

  14. Ivan Kordač says:

    Very small insel or mount (peak) somewhere in glacial country …. perhaps Iceland in spring time.
    Water on ice and melted snow and ice on the ground without green nature.

  15. Roy Dacke says:

    Gobi desert

  16. Peter Balwin says:

    Looks like re-frozen meltwater ponds on the ice cap of Greenland.

  17. Anthony Way says:

    Lena River delta into Laptev Sea showing shore ice, multiple braids and frozen. Probably the largest delta in the Arctic Ocean if not the world. Susceptible to major changes with sea-level rises, with sea ice decline, permafrost melting, and precipitation changes.

  18. Katharine Higgins says:

    About -65.9887555, 101.9266653 in Antarctica. It is important because it shows the rapid melting of ice due to climate change.

  19. Robin W says:

    An ice mass with surface snow moving from top left to bottom right. Possibly changinging gradient (becoming steeper)probably at the change of bottom surface in the bottom right section and likely thinning and moving around bedrock . Older clearer blue light transferring ice. At a guess Greenland. Just speculation, visible spectrum…

  20. Hyokyung Lee says:

    I think it’s Antarctic lakes under the ice sheet captured by ICESat-2.

  21. Soren J says:

    Probably somewhere on the west coast Greenland. The snow cover is melting off a glacier from the bottom of the image toward the the top of the image as the elevation increases. The melt water channels are flowing towards the bottom of the photo. Crevices on the glacier show on the top right of the image.

  22. Karen Stelly says:

    Svalbard, ‘Summer melting in Svalbard’ record melting

  23. joy says:

    By this picture we can understand that the glacier ice is in the middle where it has not completely melted and the solid state is not in the middle. The upper solid part is the solid and the lower part is the soil.