This nearly cloud-free view of Great Britain and Ireland was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite on March 26, 2012. Just a few days into spring, most of the land appears green, although not quite as brilliant as the summertime hues that give Ireland the nickname “the Emerald Island”.
The islands of Ireland (west) and Great Britain (east) are separated by the Irish Sea, which is filled with the turquoise, green and tan swirls typical of sediment, although blooming algae could also contribute some color to the waters. To the southeast, the English Channel separates the island of Great Britain from France (south) and Belgium (north). London can be seen as a gray circle situated inland on the tan-colored River Thames. The sediment from the Thames flows into the English Channel due east of London.
The United Kingdom is made up of Wales, Scotland and England, all located primarily on the island of Great Britain, and of Northern Ireland, which comprises the northern section of the island of Ireland. Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland, can be seen as a gray smudge on the eastern coast of the island. Almost due west Galway can be seen as a linear gray streak on the northern coast of Galway Bay, with the blue waters of Loch Corrib to the north.
Most of the United Kingdom and Ireland are part of the Celtic broadleaf forest ecoregion, where acid-loving oak and mixed oak forests abound, along with fen and swamp forests and ombrotrophic mires. A portion of the Scottish Highlands, in the north of Great Britain, are covered by the Caledon conifer forest ecoregion. The Caledonia conifers once covered a large area of Scotland, but now only about 1% of the original forest survives, mostly high in the cooler areas of the Highlands.