Set against the sapphire blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and Gulf
of Mexico, central Mexico boasts a dazzling array of colors and
landscapes, from verdant green tropical forests to black mountains to
caramel-colored, high-altitude deserts. The Sierra Madre Occidental
Mountains march down the western portion of Mexico, while the Sierra
Madre Oriental Mountains march down in the east. Mexico City, the
country's capital, sits in a small valley to the right of the image
center, and is very near three small fires, marked in red. To the
left of Mexico City is the city of Toluca, which appears as a small,
dark gray smudge. Far to the west, north of the Laguna de Chapala
(left of center), is the city of Guadalajara, which appears grayish
brown against the southern reaches of the darker, brown-black Sierra
MODIS detected a number of fires scattered through a few Mexican
states, mostly in Guanajuato and Michoacan (slightly left of center).
Air pollution, both from fires and anthropogenic sources, is also
quite visibly casting gray-blue palls over portions of the country.
It is especially noticeable along the image’s northeastern coast,
where it obscures much of the land beneath and almost completely
hides the Laguna de Tamiahua on the bit of land jutting eastward into
the Gulf of Mexico. Rather than spreading over the whole country,
the pollution in the northeast is contained by the Sierra Madre
Oriental Mountains and is blown out over the Gulf. This true-color
Terra MODIS image was acquired December 4th, 2002.