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European Mountains and Lakes
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European Mountains and Lakes

May 20, 2007

The snow-capped Alps, the Apennines mountain chain and several prominent European lakes are shown in this Envisat image.

The Alps - south central Europe's great crescent-shaped mountain system - extend some 1200 km through France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria and down through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro and Albania as the Dinaric Alps. The Alps occupy an area of about 200,000 sq km and are inhabited by some 20 million people.

The Apennines (visible running north to south down Italy) stretch the entire length of the Italian peninsula. Most of Italy's rivers find their source in the Apennines, including the Tiber and Arno. The central and southern Apennines are home to springs, crater lakes and volcanoes.

The Ligurian Sea to the west of Italy and the Adriatic Sea to Italy's east are visible as are six prominent European lakes. The aqua blue lake sitting at the foot of the Alps in the centre of the image is Lake Garda. With an area of 370 sq km, it is the largest lake in Italy and the third largest in the Alpine region, behind Lakes Geneva and Constance.

The two dark blue bodies of water located at the foot of the Alps directly west of Lake Garda are Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. Lake Como, which is shaped liked an upside-down ‘Y', has an area of 146 sq km making it Italy's third largest lake after Lakes Garda and Maggiore (212 sq km). Lake Como is located between the two. Lake Maggiore's most northerly tip, comprised of some 42 sq km, belongs to Switzerland.

The crescent-shaped dark blue lake located on the other side of the Alps on the border of Switzerland and France is Lake Geneva. With an area of 581sq km, it is the largest Alpine lake in Europe. The northern part of the lake, about 347 sq km of its area, belongs to Switzerland, and the southern part belongs to France. Located down from the easterly edge of the lake on the Franco-Italian border is the Alps' highest peak, Mont Blanc (4807 m).

Lake Neuchâtel is located above Lake Geneva and, with a surface of 218 sq km, is the largest lake located entirely in Switzerland. It is some 38 km long and ranges from six to 8 km wide.

Located to the northeast of Lake Neuchâtel on the borders of Austria, Germany and Switzerland is Lake Constance. Formed by the Rhine Glacier during the Ice Age, Lake Constance is a freshwater lake. Covering an area of 539 sq km, it is Central Europe's third largest lake, after Hungary's Lake Balaton (592 sq km) and Lake Geneva.

This image was acquired by Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument on 10 April 2007, working in Full Resolution mode to provide a spatial resolution of 300 metres.



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