Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of the Gulf of Taranto. Situated at the base of the boot of Italy, the gulf is roughly 140 kilometers long and 140 kilometers wide (90 miles by 90 miles). The city of Taranto is an important commercial and military port, with steel and iron factories, oil refineries, chemical works, shipyards, and food-processing plants.
The light blue swirls that hug the shorelines are probably sediment plumes created by local rivers or beach erosion; they could also be pollutants from cities along the coastline. The tight curl of sediment curl off the city of Taranto shows a clockwise circulation and suggests that this plume comes from one of the largest rivers flowing into the gulf, the Sarmento. But some contribution seems to come from urban runoff because the largest plumes are near the main city cities—Taranto and Gallipoli. Meanwhile the largest river, the Crati, gives rise only to a thin plume.
Astronaut photograph ISS042-E-001166 was acquired on November 9, 2014, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 135 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 42 crew. It 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 L. Vanderbloemen, Jacobs at NASA-JSC.