Putorana Plateau in Central Siberia
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Putorana Plateau in Central Siberia

September 18, 2012
On September 4, 2012, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this view (top) of snow blanketing the creviced highlands of the Putorana Plateau in central Siberia. The bright white of the snow provides a striking contrast to the brown of the underlying volcanic landscape. A number of narrow lakes, including Lake Khantayskoye (the largest finger-like lake in the southwest), appear dark blue.

The plateau, which lies within the Arctic Circle, is an area where snowfall can occur in early September (northern hemisphere summer, at least astronomically) because of its cool climate and high-elevation. The plateau was formed some 250 million years ago when an enormous mass of magma spilled across the land, depositing a layer of basalt nearly 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) thick. Over time, cracks in the rock filled with water, forming the thin lakes and rivers that define the area. In fact, in the local dialect (Evenki), putorana literally means “lakes with steep shores.” So far, the lakes have not frozen, but they likely will in the coming weeks.

Credits: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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