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Airborne Dust Over Niger and Mali

18.0N 9.0E

June 3rd, 2013 Category: Dust Storms, Mountains VIIRSSuomi-NPP

Niger and Mali – June 1st, 2013

A close inspection of this image reveals yellow dust blowing about in the air over Niger (right) and Mali (left). Mostly unaffected by the dust due to their high altitude are the Aïr Mountains. Lying in the midst of the Sahara Desert, with an average altitude between 500 and 900 m (1,600 and 3,000 ft), the mountains form an island of Sahel climate which supports a wide variety of life.

Snow-Capped Baekdu Mountain, China and North Korea

42.0N 128.0E

May 23rd, 2013 Category: Mountains

China and Korea – May 23rd, 2013

Baekdu Mountain, also known in China as Changbai Mountain and Baitou Mountain, is an active volcanic mountain on the border between North Korea and China. It is visible here by way of its snow-capped peak, near the image center.

At 2,744 m (9,003 ft), it is the highest mountain of the Changbai mountain range to the north and Baekdudaegan mountain range to the south. It is also the highest mountain in the Korean Peninsula and in northeastern China. A large crater lake, called Heaven Lake, is in the caldera atop the mountain.

Dust Over China, India and Pakistan

35.6N 74.3E

May 21st, 2013 Category: Deserts, Dust Storms, Mountains

China – May 20th, 2013

Airborne dust can be seen along the northern and southern rims of the Taklamakan Desert (above). Across the Himalayas to the southwest, haze, possibly a combination of dust and smoke, can be seen as well as over northern Pakistan and India (lower left quadrant).

Pacific Coast Ranges Crossing from USA into Canada

47.9N 123W

May 6th, 2013 Category: Mountains

USA – May 5th, 2013

The Pacific Coast Ranges (in Canada) and the Pacific Mountain System (in the United States) are the series of mountain ranges that stretch along the West Coast of North America from Alaska south to Northern and Central Mexico. Both the Canadian and United States portions are often referred to as Pacific Coast Ranges.

The Pacific Coast Ranges are part of the North American Cordillera, which includes the Rocky Mountains, Columbia Mountains, Interior Mountains, the Interior Plateau, Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Great Basin mountain ranges, and other ranges and various plateaus and basins. The Pacific Coast Ranges designation, however, only applies to the Western System of the Western Cordillera, which comprises the Saint Elias Mountains, Coast Mountains, Insular Mountains, Olympic Mountains, Cascade Range, Oregon Coast Range, California Coast Ranges, Transverse Ranges, Peninsular Ranges, and the Sierra Madre Occidental.

The character of the ranges varies considerably, from the record-setting tidewater glaciers in the ranges of Alaska, to the rugged Central and Southern California ranges, the Transverse Ranges and Peninsular Ranges, in the chaparral and woodlands ecoregion with Oak Woodland, Chaparral shrub forest or Coastal sage scrub-covering them.

The coastline often drops steeply into the sea. Along the British Columbia and Alaska coast, the mountains intermix with the sea in a complex maze of fjords, with thousands of islands. There are coastal plains at the mouths of rivers that have punched through the mountains spreading sediments, most notably at the Copper River in Alaska, the Fraser River in British Columbia, and the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon. In California, sediments are spread by the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers into the San Francisco Bay, by the Santa Clara River to Oxnard Plain (home to some of the most fertile soil in the world), and by the Los Angeles, San Gabriel, and Santa Ana Rivers to the Los Angeles Basin – a coastal sediment-filled plain between the peninsular and transverse ranges with sediment in the basin up to 6 miles (10 km) deep.

From the vicinity of San Francisco Bay north, it is common in winter for cool unstable air masses from the Gulf of Alaska to make landfall in one of the Coast Ranges, resulting in heavy precipitation, both as rain and snow, especially on their western slopes. The same Winter weather occurs with less frequency and precipitation in Southern California, with the mountains’ western faces and peaks causing an eastward rainshadow that produces the arid desert regions.

Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Ecosystems, USA

49.6N 118.6W

April 23rd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Mountains

USA and Canada – April 22nd, 2013

Climate change is widely acknowledged to be having a profound effect on the biosphere with many and diverse impacts on global resources. Mountain ecosystems in the western U.S. and the Northern Rockies in particular are highly sensitive to climate change. In fact, the higher elevations of the Northern Rockies have experienced three times the global average temperature increase over the past century.

These same ecosystems provide up to 85% of the water humans depend on as well as a host of other ecosystem services such as snow-based recreation, timber, unique flora and fauna, and critical habitat for rare and endangered species such as bull trout and grizzly bear. Climate change poses special problems for mountain protected areas, such as national parks and wilderness areas, because most of the land area within their boundaries is at higher elevations.

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