Glacial valleys in the European Alps.The paths taken by glaciers…

Glacial valleys in the European Alps.

The paths taken by glaciers in the most recent Worms glaciation, that ended around 10,000 years ago, are clearly visible in this image of the Alps taken from the Space Station. Mist fills the U shaped vales, rising from the braided rivers flowing along their bottoms. Paths of subsidiary glaciers joining the main ones are also visible at the sides of the larger valleys. The dendritic drainage in the higher areas above the valleys results from rainfall and snowmelt during the current Holocene era.

We did a recent post on these valleys, illustrated with a beautiful photo of one seem from ground level at


Image credit: Luca Parmitano

“Your Lights are Shinning Brightly….” NASA and NOAA have…

“Your Lights are Shinning Brightly….”

NASA and NOAA have released some amazing photos of just how brightly Christmas (and Ramadan) lights shine.

Miguel Romàn and others gathered their data from the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite. After looking at 70 U.S. cities in 2012 and 2013, they found night time lights in suburban areas increased in brightness by as much as 50 percent, while urban areas increase by a little less, between 20 and 30 percent.

The researchers focused mainly on west coast cities in the United States, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, because cities with heavy snowfall cause light to reflect up, making it seem brighter than it actually is. They also looked at cities in Puerto Rico, known for their long and boisterous Christmas celebrations prior to this year’s disastrous hurricane.

Interestingly, they also saw a large increase in Cairo during Ramadan. They actually discovered the holiday phenomenon while trying to explain data discrepencies for light coming out of Cairo. There is a lot of variation, however, in the amount of light coming out of cities with a Muslim majority population; Cairo and cities in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh and Jeddah) were the best examples of an increase in light, as most people, rich or poor, religious or not, celebrate the end of Ramadan. Some cities in Saudi Arabia saw a massive increase in light, from 60 to 100 percent. Places without consistent electricity or affected by endemic violence (Syria, Iraq and Lebanon) saw little change in light use during the holiday.

The data is also being used to determine how energy use reflects social and cultural characteristics for individual cities; this can help developers and planners in determining future electrical use. In addition, it allows climate scientists know when to expect large releases in greenhouse cases from urban use.

For further reading and for original photos, please visit:

Photo Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen