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Spanish and French Coasts
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Spanish and French Coasts

January 17, 2006
This ASAR Wide Swath image of 405 km wide by 1235 km long shows in a single acquisition the east of Spain, the west of France and a part of the north of Africa.

This image is a nice demonstration of one of the main features of the Wide Swath Mode, which is the capability to cover more than 400 Km in range using the ASAR beam steering in elevation and the ScanSAR technique.

The Pyrenees mountains chain, natural borders between Spain and France, can be easily identified in the center of the image. The brighter land areas are major European cities. The city of Barcelona in Catalonia appears particularly bright in the center right part of the image. The small dark patch in the south of the city near the coast is the mountain of Montjuich, where took place the 1929 International Exposition. The image shows how the Barcelona urban area extends towards the north, along the main road axes, joining the major industrial cities in Catalonia.

Some main French cities are also visible in the image: Toulouse, in the center right part of the image, Nantes, in the top center of the image, with the Loire river flowing through, and Bordeaux in the south of Gironde estuary on the west coast. This is the largest estuary in France and it is formed by the confluence of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, flowing from south and east respectively.

On the small area of Africa visible at the bottom of the image, the Atlas mountains chain and the city of Algiers can also be identified. Other geographical features in the image are the Balearic Islands (the largest island is Mallorca, with Ibiza on the west and Formentera on the south), the Ebro Delta in light grey tones on the coast to the south west of Barcelona and the "Mar Menor" or "little sea", which appears as a triangular form on the Spanish coast, in the bottom left part of the image. The variety of plant species and fauna have made of the Ebro Delta an important natural park, which hosts 95 different nesting species of birds and includes a variety of different ecosystems, including sand dunes, salt marsh and rice fields. The "Mar Menor" is Europe's largest sea lagoon. It is separated from Mediterranean Sea by "La Manga del Mar Menor" a strip of land that is no more than 900 meters wide at its broadest point.

The effect of the wind on the sea surface can be observed in the Bay of Biscay, in the top left part of the image, as wind modifies the local sea surface roughness. Under high wind condition the sea surface roughness increases producing stronger backscatter energy towards the antenna and lighter color in the image. In the image can also be observed several spiraling eddies revealed indirectly through the presence of natural film. Numerous ships can be seen in the Mediterranean Sea, particularly between Spanish mainland and the Balearic Islands.

Technical Information:
  • Satellite: Envisat
  • Instrument: ASAR
  • Acquisition: 16-Apr-2003
  • Orbit nr: 05895
  • Center coordinates: lat. 41.96, lon. -1.11


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