Atafu Atoll (NASA, International Space Station Science, 01/06/09)

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    Atafu Atoll in the Southern Pacific Ocean is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 18 crewmember on the International Space Station. At roughly eight kilometers wide, Atafu Atoll is the smallest of three atolls (with Nukunonu and Fakaofo atolls to the southeast, not shown) comprising the Tokelau Islands group located in the southern Pacific Ocean. Swains Island to the south (not shown) is also considered part of the Tokelau group. The political entity of Tokelau is currently a territory of New Zealand. In recent years, public referendums on independence within the islands have been held, but have not received sufficient support to move forward. The primary settlement on Atafu is a village located at the northwestern corner of the atoll -- indicated by an area of light gray dots in this photograph. The typical ring shape of the atoll is the result of coral reefs building up around a former volcanic island. Over geologic time, the central volcano has subsided beneath the water surface, leaving the fringing reefs and a central lagoon that contains submerged coral reefs. Erosion and soil development on the surfaces of the exposed fringing reefs has lead to formation of tan to light brown beach deposits (southern and western sides of the atoll) and green vegetation cover (northern and eastern sides of the atoll). The Tokelau Islands, including Atafu Atoll, suffered significant inundation and erosion during Tropical Cyclone Percy in 2005. The approximate elevation of Atafu Atoll is only two meters above the tidal high water level. Vulnerability to tropical cyclones and potential sea level rise makes the long-term habitability of the atoll uncertain.

    Image credit: NASA

    Read full caption:
    spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/station/crew-18/html/...

    More about the Crew Earth Observation experiment aboard the International Space Station:
    www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/science/experiments/CE...

    More about space station science:
    www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/science/index.html

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    Demetrios Georgalas aka brexians, and 11 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. pixaube 57 months ago | reply

      *******************************

      NATURE+

      This is a stunning image, congratulations!
      www.flickr.com/groups/natureplus/
      2 photo each day, Post 1: Award 5

    2. Chipmix*** 57 months ago | reply

      NATURE+

      This is a stunning image, congratulations!
      www.flickr.com/groups/natureplus/
      2 photo each day, Post 1: Award 5

    3. Rosedale Annie 57 months ago | reply

      Cool. Looks rather waterlogged!

    4. craigroyal1 57 months ago | reply

      Amazing! Thanks so much for posting these wonderful images.

    5. Mouin.M►(away) 57 months ago | reply

      this is just amazing, i really love views from above

    6. bejey 57 months ago | reply

      I could not learn more than that!
      Thanks for sharing with us!

    7. Allxan. 57 months ago | reply

      Congratulations, E x c e l l e n t!
      EPERKE Award (Post 1: Award 5)

      Epaw

      2 photos each day! Have a nice day!

    8. Stevey Zoom 57 months ago | reply

      excellent image my friend

    9. Philip Kuntz 57 months ago | reply

      Incredible shot. Love the info too. Wonderful!

    10. nasieku [deleted] 57 months ago | reply

      Wow!!!

    11. Hélder Cotrim 55 months ago | reply

      Down there it must be wonderful.

    12. jaffles 30 months ago | reply

      Great capture!


    13. Unlucky_Alf [deleted] 27 months ago | reply

      Great shot.

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