Magazine article Geographical

The Earth as Art

Magazine article Geographical

The Earth as Art

Article excerpt

Since 1972, the Landsat Program has played an important part in the monitoring understanding and management of such resources as food, forests and water. Run by NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS), it has also contributed to research on such environmental issues as climate change and urban planning. Beyond these scientific applications, the Landsat satellites have produced some particularly striking images, which the USGS is celebrating in a new 40th anniversary series, 'Earth as Art'.

In a recent poll, members of the public voted the following as their favourites: Meandering Mississippi (1) highlights the myriad oxbow lakes and cutoffs that characterise the river south of Memphis on the border of Arkansas and Mississippi; reminiscent of the Dutch master's Starry Night, Van Gogh from Space (2) depicts massive concentrations of phytoplankton in the dark water around Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Such 'blooms' occur when deep currents bring nutrients up to sunlit surface waters, fueling the growth of these tiny plants; Yukon Delta (3) features the numerous lakes, sloughs and ponds that make up one of the world's largest deltas, in southwest Alaska; Algerian Abstract (4) shows the shifting sea of sand known as Erg Iguidi, which extends from Algeria into Mauritania, whose dunes are often more than 500 metres wide and high. …

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