In the far west of New South Wales, Australia, near the town of Menindee, a system of ephemeral, freshwater lakes are fed by the Darling River when it floods. Lake Tandou is the longest, at 18.6 kilometers from north to south. The Darling River itself is flowing in December 2011, as indicated by the dark water and blackened mud along its course (image right), and the lakes appear to have a small amount of water flooding them.
The Darling River flows southwest in tortuous fashion across the flat landscapes of this part of Australia. It has created several inland deltas in its course to the sea, with characteristic diverging channel patterns marked by younger sediments that appear grayer than the ancient red soils and rocks surrounding them. One inland delta appears at image right, where minor channels wind across the countryside. The apex of another inland delta appears at image lower left.
Some of the Menindee Lakes have been incorporated into an artificially regulated overflow system providing for flood control, water storage for domestic use and livestock, and downstream irrigation. The floor of Lake Tandou is used as prime agricultural land, as evidenced by its patchwork of irrigated fields that are protected from flooding. The lakes also serve as important wetlands supporting a rich diversity of birds.
Astronaut photograph ISS030-E-9186 was acquired on December 3, 2011, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera using an 80 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 30 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs/ESCG at NASA-JSC.
Ephemeral lakes grow with a fresh pulse of water in December 2011.
Sections of Australia have been experiencing their worst drought in 100 years. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station documented conditions in Australia in 2002, including these images of Lake Tandou in the Menindee Lake system along the Darling River. The Menindee Lakes are part of an innovative water conservation project. This lakebed is protected from flooding and is used for agriculture—primarily cotton, sunflower and grains. It is one of several interconnected lakes that sit along the lower Darling River like a string of pearls. Other lakes function as water capture reservoirs to support controlled water flow for environmental and agricultural needs down river, and to provide flood mitigation.
Acquired on April 10, 2010, and and March 7, 2009, these natural-color images show changes in a central Australian saltpan, Lake Frome. In 2010, water has seeped into the salt lake, leaving standing water in some areas and muddying much of the ground surface.