January 29, 2011 - Falkland Islands
The green lands Falkland Islands sparkle in the southern Atlantic Ocean about 250 nautical miles (460 miles) off the coast of southern Argentina. Also known as Islas Malvinas, the archipelago consists of over 775 islands and is a self-governing British Overseas Territory. On January 23, 2011 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra Satellite captured this true-color image as it passed over the region.
The island nation contains approximately 4,700 square miles (12,173 square kilometers) of land, making it slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut, USA, but has a very long coastline, estimated at 800 miles (1,288 km). Most of the land is found on the two main islands, West Falkland and East Falkland, left to right in this image, respectively.
The green land offers rich pastureland, and domestic sheep graze much of the land of the two main islands. The population of sheep here has been estimated at over a half-million animals. The ocean offers a bounty as well, as the Malvinas (Falkland) Current sweeps north of the Islands and along the east coast of South America. As a branch of the Circumpolar Current, the waters are cold and nutrient-rich. Along with wool and sheep, a rich fishery provides economic income to the population.
Surround by the consistently cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the climate of the Falklands is very much influenced by the ocean, giving it a narrow annual temperature range. The average maximum temperature in January is 13°C (55°F) and in July it is 4°C (39°F). The annual rainfall is about 22 inches, but snow, which is rare, can occur at almost any time of the year. Winds tend to be constant and heavy gales often blow across the lands.