Lake Disappointment is a large, saline lake in the Gibson Desert of northwestern Australia. Between late February and early March 2013, the lake underwent a significant transformation, thanks to heavy rains from Tropical Cyclone Rusty.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the top image on March 4, 2013. For comparison, the bottom image shows conditions observed on February 22, 2013. These images use a combination of visible and infrared light to better distinguish between water and land. Water varies in color from pale blue-green to navy, and darker shades of blue indicate greater water depths. Vegetation is green and bare ground is earth-toned.
The overall darker colors of the March 4 image may result from a different angle of the satellite sensor, but changes in the lake are unmistakable. Water depths are clearly greater in Lake Disappointment in early March, as indicated by the darker shades of blue. Water depths also increased in other regional water bodies after Cyclone Rusty’s rains.
Although the lake is salty, Lake Disappointment provides a refuge for many species of waterfowl. Rainfall also prompts rapid growth of vegetation in this usually arid region.
NASA images courtesy LANCE MODIS Rapid Response. Caption by Michon Scott.