Sivash Ukraine
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Sivash, Ukraine

November 26, 2010
From mainland Ukraine, the Crimean Peninsula extends southward into the Black Sea. The peninsula is bordered on the west by the Black Sea, and on the east by the Sea of Azov. Stretching across the peninsula is a network of shallow, marshy inlets sprawling over roughly 1,000 square miles (2,600 square kilometers). This network of lagoons is known as Sivash (also Syvash or Sivaš). During the summer months, warmed marsh waters give off unpleasant odors, lending the region nicknames of “Rotten Sea” or “Putrid Sea.”

The Thematic Mapper on NASA's Landsat 5 satellite captured this natural-color image on June 6, 2010. The shallow waters of Sivash appear in shades of peach, mustard, lime green, brilliant blue, muted blue-green, beige, and brown. Thick layers of silt coat the bottoms of the shallow marshes, which are rich enough in mineral salts to supply a local chemical plant. The marshes' shallowness and chemical composition contribute to their unearthly colors in satellite imagery.

Surrounding the marshy areas are agricultural fields, most of them rectangular, but some of them shaped by center-pivot irrigation systems. Urbanized areas appear along the shores of the Black Sea, and highways curve and zigzag across the peninsula.

Outside of the marshes, the land in this area is generally a level plain of arid steppe. Although summer heat can ripen the marshes, frosts alternate with thaws in colder months, and fogs are frequent.

NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using Landsat data provided by the United States Geological Survey. Caption by Michon Scott.

Instrument: Landsat 5 - TM

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