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Coastal and Marine Ecosystem of Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago, Cuba

21.9N 77.8W

April 22nd, 2013 Category: Fires

Cuba – April 21st, 2013

Highlighted by sunglint in  the upper left quadrant of this image is the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago, a group of islands that lines Cuba’s north-central Atlantic coast. Visible on the main island are several fires, marked by red and orange indicators.

The archipelago is developed on a general north-east to south-west direction, and stretches for 475 km (295 mi) from the Hicacos Peninsula and Varadero to the Bay of Nuevitas.

The entire system covers more than 75,000 km2 (29,000 sq mi) and is composed of approximately 2,517 cays and isles. The western islands are grouped in the Jardines del Rey archipelago, and contains Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Romano among others.

The coastal and marine ecosystem represented by the archipelago is undergoing conservation projects to protect the mangroves and coastal forests, which effectively create a buffer zone between the agricultural coast and the sensitive marine environment.

Vegetation Index and Climate Change in Florida, USA

27.9N 82W

April 3rd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Vegetation Index

USA – April 2nd, 2013

This image shows the vegetation index of the state of Florida, USA (low index appears brown to yellow, while a high index appears green to dark green). Florida has abundant and unique biological resources that are expected to be negatively affected by global climate change. The state is at particularly high risk for climate change impacts because of its low topography, extensive coastline, and frequency of large storm events.

Climate change is already making large sweeping changes to Florida’s landscape, especially along the coasts. The drivers of this change are both physical and biological in nature. Changes in air and water temperature, freshwater availability, salt water intrusion, ocean acidification, natural disturbance regime shifts (e.g., fire, storms, flood), and loss of land area have already been observed in Florida. Florida’s average air temperature has increased at a rate of 0.2 – 0.40C per century over the past 160 years and is expected to increase around another 50C by 2100.

Rainfall in Florida has generally increased by 10% over the last 120 years, and more frequent heavy precipitation events are expected in the future. Both globally and in Florida, ocean pH has been lowered 0.1 unit since the pre-industrial period and another 0.3–0.5 pH unit drop is predicted by 2100. Many of Florida’s disturbances regimes such as algae blooms, wildfires, hypoxia, storms, droughts and floods, diseases, pest outbreaks are already showing signs of change. Finally, Florida’s sea level is currently rising at 1.8-2.4 mm per year and may rise by another meter by 2100.

Florida’s biodiversity is already responding to climate change through changes in physiology, distribution, phenology, and extinction risk. Physiological stress is being observed among marine species in reduced rates of calcification, photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and reproduction brought on by increased acidity. Northward movement is becoming more common as a result of temperature shifts. Unfortunately, for Florida, species movement brings increased risk for invasions by non-native species, like the Cuban treefrog. Sea turtle nesting and tree flowering dates are starting to shift earlier in time to keep pace with increasing temperatures in Florida. Climate change also brings elevated extinction risks for Florida’s numerous endemic species and species of conservation concern (click here for more information).

Brilliant Colors of Gulf of Batabanó, Cuba – February 10th, 2013

21.9N 82.7W

February 10th, 2013 Category: Image of the day

Cuba – January 25th, 2013

The Gulf of Batabanó is an inlet or strait off southwestern Cuba in the Caribbean Sea, separating mainland Cuba from the Isle of Youth. It is easily recognizable here by its bright, turquoise blue color. The northeastern section of the bay, called the Ensenada de la Broa, on the other hand, appears darker green, probably due to an influx of sediments and algal growth. The gulf’s bright blue waters are in part due to their shallow depth: less than 200 feet (61 m).

Florida Everglades and Sediments in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea – December 25th, 2012

24.3N 86.2W

December 25th, 2012 Category: Image of the day, Sediments

USA, Mexico and Cuba – December 22nd, 2012

Sediments can be seen along the southwestern coast of Florida, USA (upper right), in the Gulf of Batabanó, Cuba (center right), along the western and northern coasts of the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico (lower left) and by the Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana, USA (upper left). In the former three, the bright, light color is in part due to sediments and in part due to shallower depths.

Of particular note in Florida are the Everglades. Beginning in 1948 with the creation of the Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Flood Control Project, much of the original greater Everglades ecosystem was drained in an effort to create a system of canals and dikes that would control the flow of water and accommodate agriculture and urban development. Some 50 percent of the original Everglades has been lost to agriculture and development but the majority of the remaining original Everglades acreage is now protected in a national park, national wildlife refuge, and water conservation areas.

Hurricane Sandy (18L) in Caribbean – October 26th, 2012

20.1N 72.1W

October 26th, 2012 Category: Tropical Storms

Hurricane Sandy (18L) – October 23rd, 2012

Enhanced image

Track of Hurricane Sandy (18L) - October 25th, 2012 © Univ. of Wisconsin

Track of TS 18L

Hurricane Sandy (18L) has developed from a tropical wave that was moving westward through the eastern Caribbean Sea on October 19.

On October 20, the system became better organized, although it weakened on October 21. However, by October 22, it became organized enough to earn the designation Tropical Depression Eighteen and was soon upgraded to Tropical Storm Sandy. The main image shows the storm as it was organizing.

The system has since been upgraded to hurricane status. As of 8 p.m. EDT October 25 (0000 UTC October 26), Hurricane Sandy is located within 20 nautical miles of 24.8°N 75.8°W, about 35 mi (55 km) southeast of Eleuthera; about 105 mi (170 km) east of Nassau, Bahamas.

Maximum sustained winds are 85 knots (100 mph, 160 km/h), with stronger gusts. Minimum central pressure is 965 mbar (hPa; 28.50 InHg), and the system is moving north-northwest at 15 kt (17 mph, 27 km/h). Hurricane force winds extend up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center of Sandy, and tropical storm force winds up to 205 miles (330 km) from the center.

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