Status Report

NASA MODIS Image of the Day: April 27, 2012 – Southwest Alaska

By SpaceRef Editor
April 27, 2012
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Shades of spring in southeastern Alaska appear much like the shades of winter from space – the primary colors are white (snow and ice) and dark green (boreal forest). In spring, however, warmer temperatures and longer days melt the snow and ice, slowly unveiling the features of the landscape, as well the deep blues of the coastal waters. In this mid-spring image, captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite on April 24, 2012, the boreal forests in Denali National Park appear the darkest green, and nearly snow free, near the center of the image, while clouds cover some of the peaks in the 600-mile-long Alaska Range that stretches across the region. On April 20, the Denali National Park and Preserve Superintendent announced that, due to longer days and warming temperatures, the snow cover was no longer adequate for the use of snowmobiles north of the Alaska Range. Across much of the inland region, the greenish-gray coloration suggests that vegetation is beginning to be seen through a thinning snow cover. In contrast the tundra of the coastal regions, as well as some of the rugged high terrain, remains bright white due to a blanket of snow, as does Nunivak Island. Sea ice has begun to melt and pull away from the coastline, and the deep blue waters of the Bering Sea and Bristol Bay are clearly visible peeking between the ice and the coast. Large chunks of ice float in the Bering Sea northwest of Nunivak, while thinner ice floats in lacy, graceful swirls, particularly in the more southerly Bristol Bay.

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SpaceRef staff editor.