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April 21, 2011
On April 11, 2011 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite passed over the region and captured this true-color image of spring near Cairo, Egypt.

The valley of the Nile River, a rich agricultural region, appears as a broad green ribbon winding across arid lands colored in tans and browns. The triangular Nile Delta also appears green, indicating the large amount of vegetation in this area. Where the Nile begins to broaden and form the delta, the city of Cairo can be seen as a gray oval smudge.

To the west of the Nile River and about 80 kilometers southwest of Cairo, a broad green patch marks the Faiyum Oasis, the moist remnants of the ancient Lake Moeris. That freshwater lake slowly dried, leaving a much smaller lake and a richly vegetated oasis behind. The modern lake is called Birket Qarun and lies in the northwest corner of the oasis.

The waters of Birket Qarun have become highly salty, even though fresh water continues to seep up from a number of sub-surface springs on the bottom of the lake. Despite the saltiness, the lake supports a viable fishery and the oasis is richly biodiverse. In 1983 the Lake Qarun Protected Area was established as a Wetland of International Importance, with the objective of protection of marine and terrestrial wildlife.

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