The lengthening days of Patagonian winter, along with a cloud-free sky over the region, allowed the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite to capture a remarkably clear and beautiful image of the late winter landscape in the southernmost part of South America. This image was captured on August 21, 2011 at 19:05 UTC (4:05 p.m. Chile Summer Time – CSLT).
Winter in Patagonia brings cold and unpredictable weather to the region, especially in the mountains. Despite the southerly position, snow does not always cover the land, especially the arid coastal regions of Argentina. In the west, the high Andes Mountains collect precipitation due to cold and humid air masses rising from the ocean, helping to create and maintain the glaciers and the largest ice fields in the Southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica.
Winter also brings a lull in the sometimes fierce summer winds, which can reach 130 km/hour (81 mph), in Punta Arenas, Chile, a city on the north shore of the Brunswick Peninsula, found in the lowest ¼ of this image. Punta Arenas, the third largest city in the Patagonian Region and home to about 117,000 people, can be seen as a faint gray smudge on the edge of a snowfield on the northern edge of the Magellan Strait. The Magellan Strait separates the Brunswick Peninsula from snow-and-ice-covered Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of Patagonia.