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Sediment in Lake Erie | by NASA Goddard Photo and Video
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Sediment in Lake Erie

NASA image acquired March 21, 2012


After a nearly ice-free winter, Lake Erie was filled with multi-colored swirls of sediment on the first days of spring, 2012. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image of the southern Great Lakes region on March 21, 2012 at 16:25 UTC (12:25 p.m. Eastern Standard Time).

The nearly clear waters of Lake Huron can be seen in the northwest and Lake Ontario lies to the east of sediment-filled Lake Erie. Relatively small Lake St. Clair, also filled with multicolor sediment, sits between Lake Huron and Lake Erie.

Major cities line the shore of Lake Erie, and appear as gray smudges. In the far northeast corner of the lake sits Buffalo, New York. Moving westward, the town of Erie sits on the shoreline in Pennsylvania. Cleveland, Ohio is marked by a red hotspot, and associated with swirls of yellow-green sediment reaching from the coast into the lake.

The winter of 2011-2012 has been warmer than normal for the Great Lakes Region. A local news station,, reported in late February that temperatures around all five Great Lakes had been averaging 5 ° F higher than normal since November 2011. Great Lakes ice cover stood at only 5% as of February 15. Then, on March 21, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported that the Lake Erie water temperature measured at Buffalo, New York was 39 °F, which tied for the warmest water temperature ever measured there during the month of March.


Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team


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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.


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Uploaded on March 23, 2012