UK Snow: Where Did My Hometown Go?

A Terra Satellite view of the UK snow (NASA)
A Terra Satellite view of the UK snow (NASA)

I just saw this stunning image on Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy and I assumed it was a fancy bit of art… or a computer generated view of glacial Britain… or UK-shaped frosted cake. Nope, it’s the UK as it looks from space, right now.

The UK is experiencing record low temperatures and I just got off the phone to my mum to hear that Bristol (my hometown, somewhere in the south-west of England) hit a bone shattering -15°C low last night. Yikes! And here I am looking out of my office window feeling the heat of the Sun of a 24°C California day. Truth be told, I’m a little jealous, I haven’t felt sub zero cold for years. In fact, the last time I saw negative temperatures in double figures was when I lived in the Arctic in 2002.

For now, I’ll just have to enjoy the view from space and hope this cold spell doesn’t cause too much hassle for my family and friends. My advice: Stay indoors, only go outside if you have a warm local pub within walking distance.

Interestingly, nearly a year ago, I was admiring views taken by the same Terra satellite of the British Isles of the snow fall back then. Needless to say, this year is worse, far worse (but a lot prettier).

Satellite View of UK Snow Storms

Snow cover over east England up to the Scottish border on February 4th (Terra MODIS/NASA)
Snow cover over east England up to the Scottish border on February 4th. Left: A visible light view. Right: Visible/infrared wavelengths, the snow cover is in red (Terra MODIS/NASA)

UPDATE: This post is from the snowstorm in February 2009, for the satellite view of the UK in the grips of record low temperatures in January 2010 go to “UK Snow: Where Did My Hometown Go?

In case you were wondering what the recent snow storms in the UK looked like from space, NASA has released imagery from their Terra satellite for our viewing pleasure. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument captured images down to a resolution of 250 metres/pixel, showing the detail in the snow cover and urban areas.

The MODIS on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this view of snow in England on February 4, 2009. The snow stretches from the English Channel north under a bank of clouds near the Scottish border. The winter storm that brought the snow in the first days of February blanketed southeast England with the heaviest snow the region had seen in 18 years, said BBC News. As much as 20 centimeters (8 inches) of snow fell on London. The poor weather closed transportation, schools, and businesses throughout southeastern England, reported BBC News.MODIS website

I know for a fact this huge amount of snow caused all sorts of inconvenience for the entire country, but I would have liked to have been in my hometown of Bristol (in the south-west–bottom-left–of the image above, under all that cloud cover) to experience a good old fashioned British winter. According to my mum, her street wasn’t lined in snow men, it was filled with snow giants, an entire town of them! Oh well, I’ll just have to admire the scene from space…


Chile Chaitén Volcano Still Erupting, Town Empty

The continuing activity at the Chaiten volcano, Chile (NASA)
The continuing activity at the Chaiten volcano, Chile (NASA)

In May 2008, a dormant volcano in Chile awoke from its 9,000 year sleep. The Chaitén volcano blasted smoke and ash high into the atmosphere, causing the local population to flee from the nearby town, under the ominous clouds of lightning-inducing hot ash and steam. Eight months after the eruption shook the region, the small town in the southwest remains deserted and polluted.

Using the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite, a new view above the volcano have become available, showing the destruction in the wake of this regional natural disaster…
Continue reading “Chile Chaitén Volcano Still Erupting, Town Empty”