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NASA MODIS Image of the Day: December 24, 2011 - Crozet Islands, south Indian Ocean

Status Report From: NASA MODIS Web
Posted: Saturday, December 24, 2011

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On December 18, 2011 the Aqua satellite passed over the South Indian Ocean, allowing the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) carried aboard to capture this true-color image of a cluster of snow-free Antarctic islands, the Crozet Islands.

The Crozet Islands are an archipelago which includes five major islands and about 40 smaller islets and is located about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar to Antarctica.

Administratively the archipelago is a part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. The islands are so southerly thatthey fall within the Antarctic ecozone. They have a somewhat milder climate that Antarctica proper and they support a greater diversity of tundra plants, although there are no trees due to the constant wind. These islands also support a great diversity of wildlife, including fur seals, leopard seals, and southern elephant seals as well as being an important home to penguins and a variety of migratory birds. The seas near the islands are rich in phytoplankton and krill, both key components of the marine food chain. These volcanic islands rise from the submarine Crozet Plateau. They are divided into two groups: the western islands (L’Occidental) and the eastern islands (L’Oriental). The western group is comprised of Île aux Cochons, the most western and the largest island in the group. It is a 600 m high volcanic cone. The smaller Ilots des Apotres lies to the north and the Ile des Pingouins to the south. In the east, the islands are Île de la Possession and Île de L’Est, the easternmost island.

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