Arctic autumn


This year’s northern hemisphere summer – while bringing a lot of dry and sunny weather in Europe – was a fairly moderate summer in the Arctic with relatively limited good satellite image recording possibilities in particular at very high latitudes. The USGS has continued recording a few Landsat image series in northern Greenland outside the regular Landsat coverage (i covered this before) but they seem to have this fixed on path 40 with no adjustment to the weather and as a result most of the recordings are with a lot of clouds. The best one this year was the last one which already features some fresh show though. I supplemented this with other images from around the same time from further south into a high latitude mosaic covering the northernmost and also most remote area of the northern hemisphere:

Image recordings from high latitudes as previously discussed vary more significantly in lighting than at lower latitudes creating additional difficulties when assembling mosaics. The off-nadir pass defining the northernmost part of the image is characterized by a later local recording time in the earlier images more to the east. That sounds a bit absurd but makes sense if you consider that the satellite is faster in East-West direction than the Sun in its daily movement in this area.

The lower sun position leads to a higher fraction of atmospheric light filtering and a larger significance of indirect light resulting in a more reddish/violet tint of the images. To match this i tried to choose images further south matching this characteristic – which is of course not perfect due to constraints in weather and because image recording plans are selective.

Here a few crops from the mosaic:

The mosaic can be found for licensing in the catalog on

Another area of the Arctic i would like to show is the Matusevich Ice Shelf in Severnaya Zemlya. I covered its retreat over the past decades in a previous post. This year you could see – in the few clear views within a mostly cloudy summer – that the connection to the Karpinsky Ice Cap is now nearly gone and the small remainder of the Ice Shelf is just fed by the Rusanov Ice Cap now. Here a Sentinel-2 image from the end of August with – like in northern Greenland – already a little fresh snow.

For comparison here a 2016 view of the area – for earlier views see the post linked to above.

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