Earth as Art 3

The Earth as Art Three exhibit provides fresh and inspiring glimpses of different parts of our planet's complex surface.

Yukon Delta

After beginning in northern British Columbia and flowing through Yukon in Canada, the Yukon River crosses Alaska, USA, before emptying into the Bering Sea. Countless lakes, sloughs, and ponds are scattered throughout this scene of the Yukon Delta. The river's sinuous, branching waterways seem like blood vessels branching out to enclose an organ. It is one of the largest river deltas in the world, and currently (2010) protected as part of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

Waziristan Hills

Deep purple and green hues enhance the Waziristan Hills, a mountainous region of northwest Pakistan near the Afghanistan border. A formidable landscape, the Waziristan Hills are a hodgepodge of steep, rugged hills split by narrow passes and deep gorges. Rivers coursing down from the mountains provide water for agriculture in a region of scanty rainfall.

Van Gogh from Space

In the style of Van Gogh's painting "Starry Night," massive congregations of greenish phytoplankton swirl in the dark water around Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. Phytoplankton are microscopic marine plants that form the first link in nearly all ocean food chains. Population explosions, or blooms, of phytoplankton, like the one shown here, occur when deep currents bring nutrients up to sunlit surface waters, fueling the growth and reproduction of these tiny plants.

The Dhofar Difference

Much of Oman is desert, but the Arabian Sea coast in the Dhofar region represents a startling difference in climate. This coastal region catches the monsoon rains, or khareef, during the summer months. Drenching rains fall primarily on the mountainous ridge that separates the lush, fertile areas along the coast from the arid interior, recharging streams, waterfalls, and springs that provide plentiful water supplies in the fertile lowlands for the remainder of the year.

The Dardzha Monster

Looking like a monstrous ogre with something gooey in its mouth, the Dardzha Peninsula in western Turkmenistan lies among the shallow coastal terraces of the Caspian Sea. Strong winds create huge sand dunes near the water, some of which are partly submerged. Further inland, the dunes transition to low sand plains.

Spilled Paint

Like poster paints run wild, this image reveals an eclectic montage of landscapes in Iran's largest desert, the Dasht-e Kavir, or Great Salt Desert. The word kavir is Persian for salt marsh. The almost uninhabited region covers an area of more than 77,000 square kilometers (29,730 square miles) and is a mix of dry streambeds, desert plateaus, mudflats, and salt marshes. Extreme heat, dramatic daily temperature swings, and violent storms are the norm in this inhospitable place.

Sor Kaydak

The intricate lines angling and criss-crossing over the landscape are roads in extreme southwestern Kazakhstan. The turquoise areas to the left are salt flats and marshes, some parts of which are submerged (dark blue). The water body is Sor Kaydak, which was once a gulf of the Caspian Sea. As water levels have dropped, curious patterns in the landscape emerged that reveal old tributaries.

Sierra de Velasco

Shimmering blues and greens accentuate the textures of the Sierra de Velasco Mountains of northern Argentina. The urban area (pinkish circle) near the lower left part of the mountain range is La Rioja, the capital of the province of La Rioja. Follow the foothills to the upper right, where the city of San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca lies near extensive vineyards and fruit-growing areas (blue blocky shapes).

Siberian Ribbons

Vivid colors and bizarre shapes come together in an image that could be an imaginative illustration for a fantasy story. This labyrinth of exotic features is present along the edge of Russia's Chaunskaya Bay (vivid blue half circle) in northeastern Siberia. Two major rivers, the Chaun and Palyavaam, flow into the bay, which in turn opens into the Arctic Ocean. Ribbon lakes and bogs are present throughout the area, created by depressions left by receding glaciers.

San Luis, Argentina

Straight highways fan out like spokes on a wheel from the Argentine city of San Luis. To the right of the city are croplands that resemble colorful confetti. Founded in 1594, San Luis lies at the tip of the Sierra de San Luis and is largely surrounded by flat-to-rolling fertile plains.

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