For those of you with readers, if you haven’t subscribed to Earth Snapshot yet, you should really consider it. Multiple daily satellite images of Earth, aside from their beauty they’re a valuable learning tool in their own right.
A few days ago, Earth Snapshot released this view (and reproduced below) of the eastern Bay of Bengal showing Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), and parts of northeastern India. The caption for the image discusses mountains natural ability to block smoke and haze from traveling over them. As we all know, heat rises, but when it is forced upwards by a mountain chain the air cools, forcing it back down if the mountain ridges are too high. This is an important aspect of the precipitation cycle, warm moist air low-lying areas and oceans are eventually forced upwards when they are pushed into mountain chains, as the air cools the moisture is released as precipitation, watering the mountainside and traveling downhill towards rivers and, eventually, larger bodies of water. In this image, we see haze from India and Bangladesh (attributed to agricultural fires and pollutants) locked out of Burma by the eastern Himalaya.
What is most striking to me is the clear delineation of the border between Bangladesh and the northeast Indian state of Meghalaya. Meghalaya’s landscape is dominated by the Khasi Hills, which are lush and heavily forested. Further north beyond the forested hills are the agricultural lands along the Assam Plain (on either side of the Brahmaputra river). The eastern boundary of Bangladesh with India and Burma is less discernible thanks to the forested Chittagong Hills, foothills of the eastern Himalaya. Finally while Bangladesh is overwhelmingly agricultural land (Dhaka is just obscured by a cloud), we can still make out the Sundarbans in the country’s south, at the western mouth of the combined Ganga-Brahmaputra (Padma-Jamuna) river system. This extensive mangrove forest is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna (including the endangered Royal Bengal tiger). Beyond the wildlife, the Sundarbans also absorb some of the devastation brought by cyclonic activity which routinely ravage the country.
In contrast with the haze over Bangladesh, the skies over Burma are clear allowing us to clearly see the mouth of the Irrawaddy river and its floodplain.