Although the official start of winter was still a month away, southwestern Alaska already painted a frosty picture in November, 2012. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this true-color image late fall day on November 21 as it passed over the region.
Cloudless skies allowed a clear view of the region, which was with only a few spots of tan-colored land peeping through in the south. In the north, the deep greens of the boreal forest also broke through the snow cover. Across the entire image, most rivers appeared to be frozen, with the highly reflective ice appearing exceptionally bright.
Arctic sea ice waxes and wanes throughout the year, usually growing rapidly throughout January and reaching its peak in late February or March. In this image, sea ice has already begun to form, turning the water off the coast a dull white. As the winter progresses, this ice will thicken and expand, and will appear much brighter in satellite imagery.