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Photosynthetic Activity of Italy and Coastal Tunisia and Algeria

40.2N 13.3E

November 29th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Italy - November 17th, 2009

Italy - November 17th, 2009

This FAPAR image shows the vegetation index of Italy, including the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, as well as Corsica and parts of coastal Tunisia and Algeria. The vegetation index corresponds to the Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation, which provides data on the planet’s climate system.

In FAPAR images, the color spectrum over land runs from red (1.0), to green, to yellow and white (0.0), while bodies of water appear blue. Dark red regions correspond to agricultural zones for which there is high photosynthetic activity and therefore vegetation productivity, while yellow to white areas, with the exception of white patches of clouds,  indicate a low degree of photosynthetic activity.

Here, some red areas can be seen on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, while most of Italy and Corsica appears green with some yellow zones. Algeria and Tunisia show photosynthetic activity near the coast, while the area further south is yellow and white, reflecting the low photosynthetic activity of more arid regions.

Santander and Mountains of the Cantabria Region, Spain

43.4N 3.8W

November 28th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Spain - November 12th, 2009

Spain - November 12th, 2009

Cantabria is a Spanish historical region and autonomous community, bordered on the north by the Cantabrian Sea. Its capital city is Santander, visible at the top center of this orthorectified image along the shores of Santander Bay, the most prominent indentation in the coastline.

Cantabria is a mountainous and coastal region, with important natural resources. The coastal area is a strip of low, wide and gently rolling valleys some 10 kilometers in width, whose altitude does not rise above 500 meters, and which meets the ocean in a line of abrupt cliffs broken by river estuaries, creating rias and beaches.

To the south, the coastal strip rises to meet the Cantabrian mountains. This is a long barrier made up of abruptly rising mountains parallel to the sea. The ranges are mostly made of limestone with karst topography, and occupy most of Cantabria’s area. They form deep valleys oriented north-south. The torrential rivers are short, fast flowing and of great eroding power, so the slopes are steep.

The valleys define different natural regions, delimited physically by the intervening mountain ranges: Liébana, Saja-Nansa, Besaya, Pas-Pisueña, Miera, Asón-Gándara and Campoo. The Escudo Range, a mountain range of 600 to 1,000 metres high that covers 15 or 20 km in a parallel line to the coast in the west part of Cantabria.

Towards the south are higher mountains, whose crests mark the watershed between the drainage basins of the Rivers Ebro, Duero and those that flow into the Bay of Biscay. These peaks generally exceed 1,500 m from the Pass of San Glorio in the west to the Pass of Los Tornos in the eastern part: Peña Labra, Castro Valnera and the mountain passes of Sejos, El Escudo and La Sía. The great limestone masses of Picos de Europa also stand out in the southwest of the region: most of their summits exceed 2,500 m, and their topography is shaped by the former presence of glaciers.

Mountains of the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, Spain

36.9N 1.8W

November 23rd, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Spain - November 12th, 2009

Spain - November 12th, 2009

Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park is a nature reserve in southeastern Spain, near the city of Almería. The city is visible on the coast on the left side of this orthorectified image, while the park runs northeastward along part of the coastline starting at the bottom of the image.

It is the largest terrestrial-maritime reserve in the European Western Mediterranean Sea, covering 460 km² including the town of Carboneras, the mountain range of Sierra de Cabo de Gata, and 120 km² of the sea as a part of a marine reserve.

It is of volcanic origin and is centred around the Cabo de Gata headland. Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park is characterised by volcanic rock formations – lava flows, volcanic domes, volcanic calderas.

Between the village of San Miguel and the Cabo de Gata Point are salt flats (Las Salinas de Cabo de Gata) separated from the sea by a 400 m (0.24 mi) sand bar. The salt flats are a Ramsar site.

The area is semi-arid to the extent of being the driest location in Europe. The average temperature is 18 °C and it has the lowest rainfall in the Iberian peninsula and all of Europe, its average precipitation being a mere 120 to 180 mm (4.72 to 7.09 in) annually.

Sicily in Early Autumn – November 20th, 2009

November 20th, 2009 Category: Image of the day

Sicily, Italy - October 7th, 2009

Sicily, Italy - October 7th, 2009

The Italian island of Sicily shows more green vegetation in this image, taken in early autumn, than it does in the hotter and drier summer months (click here for an image of the area in summer). The skies are virtually cloud free, and the summit and flanks of Mount Etna are clearly visible as a dark brown area near the eastern shores.

In the upper right corner, the Strait of Messina separates Sicily from the Italian mainland region of Calabria. Also visible near the top of the image are the Aeolian Islands, also known as the Lipari Islands, arranged in an arched shape in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Southern Italy, Between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic Seas and the Gulf of Taranto

40.4N 16.4E

November 17th, 2009 Category: Lakes

Italy - October 7th, 2009

Italy - October 7th, 2009

The terrain of southern Italy appears divided in two, between the flatter lands near the Adriatic Coast (above) and the more mountainous terrain towards Tyrrhenian Sea (below).

Upon opening the full image, many cities and towns in the Apulia region appear as tan circular areas on the flatter Adriatic side. The main exception to this generally plain-like topography is the Gargano Peninsula (top left corner), home to Monte Gargano.

Also of note on the peninsula are Lake Lesina  (left) and Lake Varano (right), both dark green, separated from the Adriatic by a thin strip of land and dunes. Sediments line the coast of the peninsula, particularly to the right. Other swirls of sediments are also visible in the full image along the shores of the Gulf of Taranto (right).

Continuing to the right along the shoreline, towns cities such as Bari appear as tan patches amidst the green terrain. On the bottom right, by Apulia’s border with the Basilicata Region, the Basento River spills tan sediments into the Gulf of Taranto.

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