2020 was a year of immense adversity around the world. To have our freedom taken away, a virus take over our lives, and for our day to day life to be controlled by press conferences, restrictions, and anxiety for public health. But what we don’t tend to hear about, are the lessons learnt amongst that adversity.
Covid-19, whether we asked for it or not, connected people from all corners of the globe. We all had a connection, a common reality, and the world shared that relation. People also started to realise the complexities, and the beauty of our home – Planet Earth. People began to really appreciate the small things around them. From full Moons to flowers blossoming, to the rustling of leaves in the wind.
With transportation stopped, pollution the world over greatly reduced. Birds were reported as sounding louder, and more beautiful. Global carbon emissions reduced, global fishing dropped by more than 9%; and our planet got some much-needed respite.
In honour of our planet, of every day being Earth day, and to encourage us all to see the beauty in the everyday; we have compiled a list of extraordinary European Space Agency (ESA) satellite images that echo the dynamic strength of Earth; and stress the global connections we all hold.
After all, perspective is everything!
Laizhou Bay, China
This stunning image was taken by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, and shows us the sediment-stained waters in Laizhou Bay, located on the southern shores of the Bohai Sea, on the east coast of mainland China.
‘This bay is the smallest of three main bays of the Bohai Sea, and is named after the city of Laizhou, visible to the east. Large quantities of sediment carried by the Yellow River, visible in the left of the image, discolour the waters of the bay and appear turquoise. This sediment can be seen throughout the waters in this image, even far from the coast.’ (ESA)
La Soufriere volcano, Saint Vincent
Natural processes intrigue so many, and effect so many. Volcanos in particular are a key part of the Earth’s pressure system, so next we go to an incredible bird’s eye view of La Soufriere volcano with Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. La Soufrière is an active stratovolcano on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
‘A series of explosive events began in April 2021, forming a plume of volcanic ash reaching 8 km in height, and generating pyroclastic flows down the volcano’s south and southwest flanks.’ (ESA) These Volcanic eruptions on Saint Vincent have blanketed the Caribbean island in ash leading to over 16 000 residents to be evacuated from their homes.
‘Captured by Copernicus Sentinel-2 on 28 September 2017, this image shows Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar, and surrounding area. Cultivated fields can be seen clearly north of the Ikopa River… ESA and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have teamed up to exploit their particular fields of expertise to better address major global issues such as food security, and to take further advantage of the digital transformation in agriculture.’ (ESA)
Strait of Gibraltar
This commanding image is of the Strait of Gibraltar, captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. This busy strait connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean and separates southernmost Spain from northernmost Africa.
‘The channel is 58 km long and narrows to 13 km in width between Point Marroquí (Spain) and Point Cires (Morocco). Ferries and vessels can be seen travelling across the strait and crossing between the two continents.’ (ESA)
Japan in Bloom
The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission now takes us over the breath-taking algal blooms swirling around the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of Japan. The great depth to these colours is a sight to behold.
‘Algae blooms refer to the rapid multiplying of phytoplankton – microscopic marine plants that drift on or near the surface of the sea… Although algal blooms are a natural and essential part of life in the sea, human activity is also said to increase the number of annual blooms. Harmful algal blooms can be stimulated by environmental factors, such as light, warmer water temperatures and excessive nutrients.’ (ESA)
The volcanic archipelago, Galapagos Islands are a place of immense biodiversity. Their unique location in the Pacific Ocean, situated 1000km west of Ecuador, is the home to many of the world’s most dynamic creatures. And with the likes of David Attenborough exploring this immense landscape, it is a favourite for many.
This Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission image takes us over the Galápagos Islands. ‘The archipelago consists of 13 major islands and a handful of smaller islands and islets scattered across approximately 60 000 sq km of ocean. Repeated volcanic eruptions and ongoing seismic activity have helped form the rugged mountain landscape of the islands. In this image, captured on 23 September 2020, several circular volcanic cones can be seen atop the islands.’ (ESA)
Flinders Range, Australia
Dating back 800 million years, this image shows ‘the many colourful curves and folds of the Flinders Ranges – the largest mountain range in South Australia.’ This false-colour image is again captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission and shows just how unique our Earth is. The curvature is like something out of a painting.
‘The Flinders mountains are a classic example of a folded mountain range, which are formed when two or more of Earth’s tectonic plates collide – folding and pushing layers of land into mountain ranges.’ (ESA)
Ari atoll, Maldives
The Maldives; A popular tourist and diving destination, and a favourite for honeymooners on a mission to find some of the world’s most beautiful white sandy beaches. The Republic of Maldives is an island nation consisting of a chain of around 1200 small coral islands, with more than 80% of the Maldives’ land less than 1 metre above sea level.
This image, captured by Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, is of Ari Atoll: ‘Ari Atoll is one of the largest atolls in the Maldives, and is around 90 km long and 30 km wide. The turquoise colours in the image depict clear, shallow waters which contrasts with the dark coloured waters of the deep Indian Ocean.’ (ESA)
Thank you to ESA, for their multi-media gallery where we sourced these satellite images; specifically, from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. The perspective these images give us is quite breath-taking, and it really stresses the beauty of our Earth.
Long may we learn about our Earth, long many we appreciate our Earth, and long may we explore these unforgettable places. Our home is our castle!
Reference: ESA, Multi-media Gallery