August 15, 2011 - Iceland


A nearly cloud-free day in late summer allowed the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite to capture this clear view of Iceland on August 10, 2011.

Despite it’s name, much of Iceland turns green in the summer, although the weather stays rather damp and cool. Although the island lies far north, between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, the warm North Atlantic Current keeps annual temperatures higher than in most places of similar latitude in the world. The coasts remain ice-free through the winter, while the higher elevations and the Central Highlands remain ice-covered throughout the year.

According to the CIA World Factbook, agriculture makes up 5.5 % of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with potatoes and green vegetables as the most important commercial crops. The rapidly growing lush grasses also allow good pasture for sheep and cows. With almost 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) of coastline, the primary industry is fishing.

Glaciers and ice caps cover over 11% of the land, and many of these lie above volcanoes, giving rise to the nickname “the land of fire and ice”. Two volcanoes which underlie ice are Grímsvötn and Bárđarbunga, which lie under the largest ice cap, Vatnajökull, clearly seen in the south eastern section of the island. Grímsvötn and Hekla are Iceland's most frequently active volcanoes; other historically active volcanoes include Askja, Bardarbunga, Brennisteinsfjoll, Esjufjoll, Hengill, Krafla, Krisuvik, Kverkfjoll, Oraefajokull, Reykjanes, Torfajokull, and Vestmannaeyjar. Eyjafjallajokull erupted in April, 2010 and Grímsvötn erupted as recently as May, 2011.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 8/10/2011
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC