Numerous volcanoes contribute to the landmass of the island of New Britain, the largest in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. One of the most active of these volcanoes – Ulawun – is also the tallest, with a summit elevation of 2,334 meters (7,657 feet).
This astronaut photograph was taken during the most recent phase of volcanic activity at Ulawun. A plume of white steam and ash extends from the summit crater of the stratovolcano towards the northwest. The plume begins to broaden as it passes the southwestern coast of Lolobau Island, approximately 23 kilometers downwind. Note that the image is oriented such that north is towards the lower left.
Ulawun is also known as “the Father,” with the Bamus volcano to the southwest also known as “the South Son.” The summit of Bamus is obscured by white cumulus clouds (not of volcanic origin) in this image. While Ulawun has been active since at least 1700, the most recent activity at Bamus occurred in the late 19th century. A large region of ocean surface highlighted by sunglint – sunlight reflecting off the water surface—is visible to the north-northeast of Ulawun.
The Nile River Valley and Delta comprise less than 5 percent of Egypt’s land area, but provide a home to roughly 97 percent of the country’s population. Nothing makes the location of human population clearer than the lights illuminating the valley and delta at night.
On October 13, 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of the Nile River Valley and Delta. This image is from the VIIRS “day-night band,” which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe signals such as gas flares, auroras, wildfires, city lights, and reflected moonlight.
The city lights resemble a giant calla lily, just one with a kink in its stem near the city of Luxor. Some of the brightest lights occur around Cairo, but lights are abundant along the length of the river. Bright city lights also occur along the Suez Canal and around Tel Aviv.
Tolbachik Volcano on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula showed signs of unrest in late November 2012. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite detected unusually high surface temperatures and an apparent ash plume on November 29 .
The red outlines in the image approximate the areas with high surface temperatures associated with volcanic activity. The volcanic peaks cast long shadows to the north, thanks to the low angle of the Sun. By the time MODIS observed the region on November 29, the volcano had released a dark brown ash plume that settled on the snow.
Tolbachik is a shield volcano—a low-profile, broad structure with a shape resembling an ancient warrior shield. The volcano has a complex configuration, and the eruptive activity in late November reportedly occurred around the southern cone. Reports described eruptions from two fissures, a volcanic ash plume reaching 3 kilometers (9,800 feet) in altitude, and emissions of sulfur dioxide.
In time for the 2012 winter solstice, a storm dropped snow over most of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. On December 20, the National Weather Service reported snow depths exceeding 100 centimeters (39 inches) in some places—the result of the recent snowfall plus accumulation from earlier storms.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on December 19, 2012. Clouds had mostly cleared from the region, though some cloud cover lingered over parts of the Pacific Northwest and Colorado. Showing more distinct contours than the clouds, the snow cover stretched across the Rocky Mountains and the surrounding region, from Idaho to Arizona and from California to Colorado.
Snowfall did not stop in Colorado, as the storm continued moving eastward across the Midwest. By December 20, 2012, a combination of heavy snow and strong winds had closed schools, iced roads, and delayed flights, complicating plans for holiday travelers.
Tropical Cyclone Murjan made landfall on the Horn of Africa on October 25, 2012, as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image. The storm lacked the distinct eye and spiral shape characteristic of strong storms, but its clouds still spanned hundreds of kilometers.
Murjan was not a powerful storm. The U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported wind speeds of just 35 knots (65 kilometers per hour), but although the storm did not bring high winds, it did bring heavy rains. AccuWeather reported that severe thunderstorms soaked Somalia ahead of the cyclone, and continued rain was expected for northern Somalia. Heavy rains and potential flash floods were also expected for Djibouti and eastern Ethiopia.