Fresh snow covered northeastern China in early January, 2014. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image on January 8 as it flew over the region.
Widespread white stretches from the Sea of Japan, in the east across northeastern China, Russia (north) and Mongolia. The bright white rectangle near the center of the image is Hulun Lake, which appears to be completely frozen over. One of the five largest freshwater lakes in China, it is a rich source of fish and a regional tourist attraction in the summer, but few travel to the shores in the bitter cold of winter.
A much more popular winter destination is Harbin, the capital and largest city of Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China. On January 5, the city opened the 30th Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, a celebration, most appropriately, of ice and snow. The celebration, which includes an illuminated city built of thick blocks of ice cut from the Songhua River, draws hundreds of thousands of visitors, both locally and from across the globe.
Harbin can be seen in this image as a dark smudge in the brightest white expanse of snow near the right edge of the image, and just south of center. To the southwest of that city lies Changchun, the capital and largest city of Jilin Province. It, too, is seen as a star-like dark smudge in the white snow that lies over Songliao Plain.