Image of the Week

Images found during the week that show change from our past that correlate to current events.

Berlin After the Wall

November 9, 2009, marked the 20th anniversary of the dismantling of the Berlin wall in Germany.

The wall, constructed in 1961, separated the 1.28 million residents of East Berlin from the 1.75 million residents of West Berlin. The wall was later extended to surrounding regions and became a symbol of the “Cold War.”

Clear Cutting and Oil Field Development in the Swan Hills, Alberta, Canada Area

Oil and gas exploration leaves deforestation scars throughout the northern boreal forest region in Alberta, Canada near Swan Hills. This has also provided the development of new pulp mills on major rivers in the area. While there has been regrowth in some areas, the clearing is largely evident in the 2009 image, and gridlines of the third largest oilfield deposit in Canada (estimated to contain four billion barrels of oil) can also be seen in both of these images.

Lake Chad

Lake Chad, located at the borders of Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon was once the 6th largest lake in the world. A major drought in the feeder river systems regions has caused a significant drying of the lake. Landsat satellite imagery show the profound effect of the lack of upstream water sources. Lake Chad is also a fairly shallow lake (generally no more than eight m deep); consequently, more rapid decline in the lake surface is more noticeable.

Iceberg B17B South of Australia

On December 13 the U.S. Geological Survey's Landsat 7 earth observing satellite imaged a massive iceberg drifting toward Australia. The iceberg, labeled 'B17B' came off the Antarctic ice shelf in 2000 and recently got caught in wind and current patterns that pulled it north. The size of the iceberg (originally 140 X 115 square km), makes this break from the ice shelf a unique event. The iceberg is in the process of breaking up as it drifts north and east into warmer waters. Scientists and navigation experts are tracking the icebergs as they pose risks for shipping in the region.

New Orleans After the Hurricane

In August, 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the Southern U.S. coast and the resulting damage was the costliest storm damage in U.S. history. Portions of Landsat satellite data, acquired and processed by the U.S. Geological Survey illustrate the extent of the flooding in the New Orleans area and the long term impact of the storm. In the September, 2005 image dark tones represent flooded areas of the city. By October, 2005 significant areas are drying; however, the light brown tones represent areas where vegetation (trees, lawns, parks) has been destroyed.

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal was built in the early 20th century to improve worldwide shipping by shortening the route from the Atlantic to the Pacific by 7,800 miles. This Landsat 5 image, acquired on March 27, 2000 and processed by the U. S. Geological Survey, shows the Panama Canal connecting the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean (to the north) and the Gulf of Panama and the Pacific Ocean (to the south). Gatun Lake is in the center of the Canal. Northern Panama has a moist tropical climate and the vegetation is green all year. In the south, there is a distinct dry season, usually in March.

Landsat Imagery Illustrate the Impact of Retreating Glaciers in the Patagonia Region of Southern Chile

The 1986 image shows the region prior to a major retreat of the glaciers. The 2002 image shows a retreat of nearly 10 km (5.5 miles) of the glacier on the left of the scene. The smaller glacier on the right has receded over 2 km (1.3 miles.) In front of the smaller glacier two ribbon lakes have formed behind the debris left behind from the glacier's advance. Scientists and Peruvian government managers will use the Landsat imagery to monitor the rate of retreat of the glaciers and the impact on water bodies caused by the changes in size and direction of the glaciers.

Aral Sea

The Aral Sea, once the 4th largest lake in the world, continues to shrink and is now 10% of its original size. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently called the drying up of the Aral Sea one of the planet's most shocking disasters.

Feeder streams to the sea have been diverted by irrigation and by the completion of upstream dam projects. The result has been the ruin of the local fishing and shipping economy, and wind-carried salty sands have created regional health problems.

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