The Emerald Isle is featured in this true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from March 18, 2003. From its rocky western coastline, Ireland dips toward a central basin of grassy plains dotted with bogs and lakes. At top left of the image is the Atlantic Ocean, at bottom is the Celtic Sea; at right is the Irish Sea. At bottom right, the St. George´s Channel separates Ireland from Wales. At top right, the North Channel separates Northern Ireland from Scotland. On the eastern coast, a lone red outline marks the detection of a fire south of Dublin.
Source: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC


On August 7, 2003, the Aqua MODIS instrument acquired this image of Ireland on the first day this summer that most of the island hasn´t been completely obscured by cloud cover. Called the Emerald Isle for a good reason, Ireland is draped in vibrant shades of green amidst the blue Atlantic Ocean and Celtic (south) and Irish (east) Seas. Faint ribbons of blue-green phytoplankton drift in the waters of the Celtic Sea, just south of Dublin. Dublin itself appears as a large grayish-brown spot on the Republic of Ireland´s northeastern coast. This large capital city (population 1.12 million) sits on the River Liffey, effectively splitting the city in half. Northern Ireland´s capital city, Belfast, also sits on a river: the River Lagan. This city, though its population is only a fifth of the size of Dublin´s, is also clearly visible in the image as a grayish-brown spot on the coast of the Irish Sea.
Source: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC


Ireland seems beyond the reach of winters icy grip in this true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from January 4, 2003. The rugged cliffs that mark the islands west coast are showing their red-brown, rocky surface, but the low-lying interior region is still wearing the islands signature green. Ireland is essentially a depression ringed by relatively low mountains. The highest elevation in Ireland is Carrantuohill, located in the rugged terrain of the southwest tip. The bowl-like shape creates the network of lakes scattered across the island, and over time has produced peat bogs, which provide a source of fuel on the island, which is covered mostly by pasture and meadows. Irelands largest city, Dublin, makes a purplish-gray patch peaking out from the clouds about halfway down the east coast. Belfast is more clearly visible on the coast in the northeast, due east of large Lake Neagh. One Irelands few other large cities, Cork, is located at the mouth of the Lee River, at the mid-point of the southern shoreline. Surrounded by water, Ireland has the Atlantic Ocean to its west, the Celtic Sea to the south, and the Irish Sea separating it from England to the east. In the middle of the Irish Sea lies the Isle of Man. Ireland benefits from the moderating influence that large bodies of water have on regional climates. Its winters are cool—but not freezing—and damp, and summertime temperatures rarely exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit. These moderate temperatures are the result of warmer ocean water being brought up into the North Atlantic by the Gulf Stream, and its extension, the North Atlantic Drift. The island has a rugged, almost scraped appearance caused by glaciers advancing and retreating over the island during the last ice age. Ireland is part of the same land mass as continental Europe, and the Stone Age settlers who first came to the island between six and 8 thousand years ago probably walked over on dry land—a land bridge similar to the one that allowed settlers to cross the Bering Strait from Siberia into Alaska. The land bridge formed as the moisture from the Earths oceans evaporated, fell as snow, and became locked up in massive ice sheets. Sea levels dropped, exposing land bridges.
Source: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Celtic Sea Blooms

These blooms to the west and south of Ireland have been under way for some time now, but the clouds are always in the way when SeaWiFS flies over.
Source: Provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE

Coccolithophore Bloom Southwest of Ireland

A possible coccolithophore bloom is seen to the southwest of Ireland in this SeaWiFS image.
Source: Provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE

Blooms Around Ireland

Possible coccolithophore blooms are visible in this SeaWiFS image of Ireland.
Source: Provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE

Space Radar Image of County Kerry, Ireland

The Iveragh Peninsula, one of the four peninsulas in southwestern Ireland, is shown in this spaceborne radar image. The lakes of Killarney National Park are the green patches on the left side of the image. The mountains to the right of the lakes include the highest peaks (1,036 meters or 3,400 feet) in Ireland. The patchwork patterns between the mountains are areas of farming and grazing. The delicate patterns in the water are caused by refraction of ocean waves around the peninsula edges and islands, including Skellig Rocks at the right edge of the image. The Skelligs are home to a 15th century monastery and flocks of puffins. The region is part of County Kerry and includes a road called the Ring of Kerry that is one of the most famous tourist routes in Ireland. This image was acquired by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on April 12, 1994. The image is 82 kilometers by 42 kilometers (51 miles by 26 miles) and is centered at 52.0 degrees north latitude, 9.9 degrees west longitude. North is toward the lower left. The colors are assigned to different radar frequencies and polarizations of the radar as follows: red is L-band, horizontally transmitted and received; green is L-band, vertically transmitted and received; and blue is C-band, vertically transmitted and received. SIR-C/X-SAR, a joint mission of the German, Italian and United States space agencies, is part of NASAs Mission to Planet Earth program.
Source: NASA JPL

Winter Snowfall Turns an Emerald White

Irelands climate is normally mild due to the nearby Gulf Stream, but the waning days of 2000 saw the Emerald Isles green fields swathed in an uncommon blanket of white. The contrast between summer and winter is apparent in this pair of images of southwestern Ireland acquired by MISRs vertical-viewing (nadir) camera on August 23, 2000 (left) and December 29, 2000 (right). The corresponding Terra orbit numbers are 3628 and 5492, respectively. The year 2000 brought record-breaking weather to the British Isles. England and Wales experienced the wettest spring and autumn months since 1766. Despite being one of the warmest years in recent history, a cold snap arrived between Christmas and New Years Day. According to the UK Meteorological Office, the 18 centimeters (7 inches) of snow recorded at Aldergrove, Northern Ireland, on December 27-28 was the deepest daily fall since 1930. Prominent geographical features visible in the MISR images include Galway Bay near the top left. Further south, the mouth of the River Shannon, the largest river in the British Isles, meets the Atlantic Ocean. In the lower portions of the images are the counties of Limerick, Kerry and Cork. MISR was built and is managed by NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, for NASAs Office of Earth Science, Washington, DC. The Terra satellite is managed by NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology

Northern Ireland

This Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) nadir-camera image of Ireland was acquired on May 5, 2000. The location of the town of Armagh in Northern Ireland is marked. Armagh is the site of the 200-year-old Armagh Observatory. The observatorys contributions to astronomical research were recently commemorated by the official naming of two asteroids, ArmaghObs and Ardmacha. The latter is the ancient Gaelic name for the town, which was founded in 445 A.D. by St. Patrick. The asteroids were discovered in July 1987 by planetary astronomer Eleanor Helin, Principal Investigator of JPLs Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) program. The new names were published in the January 2001 Minor Planet Circular of the International Astronomical Union. The Irish Sea and the Isle of Man are located on the right-hand side of this image. Southwestern Scotland is visible in the upper right corner, and portions of northwestern Wales can be seen in the lower right.
Source: Image credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/LaRC, MISR Team