Earth from Above

Earth from Above

Earth From Above

In this special issue of BBC Focus Magazine take a tour of the planet from above. You’ll be amazed by what iconic sites look like from the air... ❱❱ Mount Everest ❱❱ The Pyramids of Giza ❱❱ Ayers Rock ❱❱ The Sahara Desert ❱❱ Manhattan ❱❱ The Colosseum

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2 Min.

Whether you’ve travelled the world in person, or from an armchair via a good book or the remote control, you’re unlikely to have ever seen Earth like in this special issue of BBC Focus magazine. I challenge you not to be genuinely intrigued by bird’s-eye views of humanmade icons such as the Pyramids of Giza, the Burj Khalifa or the Eiffel Tower, or not to marvel at the drone shots of bustling Manhattan or the make-believe world of Disneyland China, or satellite views of whole continents lit up at night. It’s through images such as these that we begin to understand the true magnitude of our engineering achievements, but also the impact of our species on the planet. However, when you see shots of the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert, the…

5 Min.

DID YOU KNOW The peninsula derives its name from the ancient inhabitants whom the Greeks called Iberians. IBERIAN PENINSULA IBERIAN PENINSULA Night glow From a window on the International Space Station an astronaut captures all 582,000km2 of the Iberian Peninsula, which is made up of Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and Andorra. Although it may look like the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) hovering above Europe, the green shell of otherworldly light is actually ‘airglow’ (also known as ‘nightglow’) – a photochemical reaction that occurs when ultraviolet radiation from the Sun excites atoms in the upper atmosphere. ICELAND Lava temple A drone hovers above the tessellated spire of Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavík – a design inspired by the interesting shapes formed from cooling lava. Below Earth’s surface lava is known as magma. Iceland sits atop a pocket of magma. Steam rising…

2 Min.
middle east

SAUDI ARABIA Crop circles Centre-pivot irrigation has transformed arid desert into circular fields of wheat, near the city of Ha’il in Saudi Arabia. But this system is unlikely to last. The underground aquifer that supplies water to these crops has been drained by as much as 80 per cent over the last few decades and, with less than 20cm of rain a year, the aquifer is unlikely to be replenished anytime soon. BAHRAIN The pearls of Bahrain Shaped like an ornate necklace, the Durrat Al-Bahrain islands are an artificial archipelago, whose name translates as ‘the most perfect pearl’. To create the 20km2 of new land off the south-east coast of Bahrain, 34 million cubic metres of material was dredged from the seafloor of the Persian Gulf. The islands are like mini towns with luxury homes,…

3 Min.

ETHIOPIA The gateway to hell The world’s oldest, continuously active lava lake bubbles inside the Erta Ale volcano, known as Smoky Mountain, in the Afar region of Ethiopia. The volcano last erupted in 2005, killing livestock and forcing locals to flee. Hence, the photographer who captured this image did so remotely via a drone. MALAWI Urban boom The population in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, has grown substantially in the last half century. In 1966 it was around 19,000. Today, it is almost a million. NASA’s satellite ASTER took this image. The rich red colouration is due to its camera capturing data from visible to thermal infrared wavelengths. NAMIBIA Sand castles The Namib Desert’s rolling red-orange sand dunes are some of the world’s tallest at over 300m high. Despite its scorching temperatures, which can reach up to 50oC, it supports…

5 Min.

SOUTH KOREA Super tanker Sections of a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) tanker stand under construction at the Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea. Stretching over 4km along the coast of Mipo Bay, the shipyard is one of the largest in the world, with 10 massive dry docks and nine huge ‘goliath cranes’. Since opening in 1972, it has produced almost 2,000 ships for companies in 52 countries. The vast size of the tanker is evident against the tiny mopeds lined up to the right of the central crane. JAPAN Island birth The world’s youngest island, Nishinoshima, is made up of two sections which formed over 60 years apart. The lower section was created in 1973 when an underwater volcano erupted, while the upper part first broke through the ocean’s surface in November…

1 Min.

KIRIBATI Cosmic view Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) see amazing night views like this on every orbit – that’s 16 times every crew day. This shot was taken as the ISS passed over the island nation of Kiribati, about 2,600km south of Hawaii. Clearly visible is the Milky Way above the curvature of the Earth. The story goes that people believed the planet to be flat until Columbus sailed to the Americas. But way back in ancient Greek times, the likes of Pythagoras thought it was round. AUSTRALIA Bone dry Lake Carnegie is one of several ‘ephemeral’ lakes in the Australian outback. At around 5,700km2, it is one of the country’s largest lakes. Usually dry, it fills up during monsoon season, only to dry up again in the hot summer months and periods…