Gotland Island in the Baltic Sea 03/17/06

MODIS image of Gotland Island

MODIS true color image (bands 1, 4, 3) of Gotland Island on the 17th of March 2006.

Ice and snow cover the island of Gotland and the surrounding land masses in the Baltic Sea region, located roughly in the center of this image; the Gulfs of Riga (to the right of Gotland) and Bothnia (above Gotland) are clearly frozen over. To the left (West) is Sweden, of which Gotland is a part; a small portion of eastern Norway is also visible. To the right (East) are the countries of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and a portion of the Russian Federation, while a small bit of Poland rings the south. The island is home to about 60,000 persons but is perhaps more famous for its horses: the Gotland pony or "Russ". This breed has been on the island for 4,000 - 5,000 years. It is not known how they reached the island; some speculate that either they traveled across a land bridge about 10,000 years ago when sea level was much lower or they were brought by boat at least 4,000 years ago. The island is also a popular tourist destination, featuring the medieval town of Visby. The island just above Gotland is Gotska Sandon, which is also a National Park of Sweden. It is inhabited by grey seals, as well a numerous species of rare plants and insects. MODIS images such as this one are used to map the extent of ice sheets in the region as well as monitor phytoplankton blooms and evaluate water quality.

Text and image courtesy of NASA's MODIS Land Rapid Response Team.