Satellite of Love

The other day I was browsing around the InterWeb.. and I came across this interesting satellite photo. (Opens in a new window)

It’s doctored, of course, since there is no cloud cover .. do you remember a day without clouds all across the earth? But it’s still a great picture and fascinating in what it shows.

First off, it’s clearly winter in the northern hemisphere, since the snow completely covers Canada and even dips down into the United States a bit in the west and near the Great Lakes.

What’s also interesting to me is how most of Europe is completely spared the snow cover. I grew up firmly in the depths of the white, where snow would first fall in October. It might melt, but a “permanent” snow would eventually fall, maybe around late November or December, after which we knew the ground would be white uninterrupted until March or so. I thought this was normal, and it never occurred to me that it wasn’t, even in parts of Europe that were just as far north.

Another thing you see is that besides Canada and Russia, there are only bits of the world that actually have to deal with snow, and a lot of it is due to mountains. The snow in California is only because of mountains. Same with China, northern India. For some reason, Turkey has a lot of snow. That’s kind of a surprise to me.

Another thing I find fascinating is the water color. Look off the coast of Florida, in the Caribbean. For some reason, the water turns a beautiful blue when shallow, just like the beautiful blue you expect on beautiful beaches. I don’t know why it does that, but it’s pretty spectacular to note that this blue is visible even from space.

You can see a lot of macro geographic features. For example, you can see how British Columbia (the westernmost part of Canada) is incredibly rough and mountainous. I always thought that you always saw mountains no matter how far you drove. It turns out there aren’t many places on earth quite so rugged. Maybe that’s why I’m not as impressed by mountains as people who grew up elsewhere .. I thought it was normal.

You can also really see areas lacking vegetation .. deserts. There’s a big desert in China (is it the Gobi?). You can see the absolute vastness of the Sahara in northern Africa; it looks like it’s been scraped clean of green with a rough steel brush, all the way through to Saudi Arabia. Compare it to how green and lush Africa is just a few hundred miles south.

Looking at South America, it’s pretty obvious where the Amazon rain forest is, and where the mountains of Chili are on the west coast.

And you can see how little is actually green in the United States during the winter time… just bits of the southeast and parts of California.

Indonesia is incredibly green and lush. Most of Australia is desert, although the green parts are pretty apparent. New Zealand clearly is more fertile than Australia.

I love maps.