Satellite Psychedelia

By Tom Yulsman | April 17, 2013 1:18 am

The Gulf Stream, as imaged in the infrared by NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite. (Image: NASA & NOAA’s Environmental Visualization Laboratory)

Who knew the Gulf Stream looked like this — from space or anywhere else?

The image was produced on April 16 by NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite. It depicts the true complexity of what is often called a river a warm water that delivers heat from south to north in the Atlantic, and across the ocean to Europe. To my eyes, “river” is simply a misnomer.

The infra-red image, covering an area about 180 miles east of Atlantic City, New Jersey,  shows the warmest waters in dark orange. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the temperature of these waters is an astounding 86 degrees F. Lighter colors indicate cooler waters, as low as 50 degrees. And the black areas in the image are clouds.

The details of the complex ocean dynamics are no doubt scientifically important. But at the end of the day, this image is, quite simply, beautiful.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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