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December 22, 2007

Ireland is very green even though this image was taken on a wintery December day in 2007. On the 17th, the MODIS on the Aqua satellite captured this image, which also shows part of Scotland and England to the east of Ireland. The rugged cliffs that mark the island of Ireland's west coast are showing their red-brown rocky surface, but the low-lying interior region is still wearing the island's signature green.

Ireland is essentially a depression ringed by relatively low mountains. The highest elevation in Ireland is Carrantuohill, located in the rugged terrain of the southwest tip. The bowl-like shape creates the network of lakes scattered across the island, and over time has produced peat bogs, which provide a source of fuel on the island, which is covered mostly by pasture and meadows.

Ireland's largest city, Dublin, makes a purplish-gray patch just south of some clouds, about halfway down the east coast. Belfast and Cork, two of Ireland's other big cities are hard to see because of the clouds.

Surrounded by water, Ireland has the Atlantic Ocean to its west, the Celtic Sea to the south, and the Irish Sea separating it from England to the east. In the middle of the Irish Sea lies the Isle of Man. Ireland benefits from the moderating influence that large bodies of water have on regional climates. Its winters are cool - but not freezing - and damp, and summertime temperatures rarely exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit. These moderate temperatures are the result of warmer ocean water being brought up into the North Atlantic by the Gulf Stream, and its extension, the North Atlantic Drift.

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