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Where on Earth...? MISR Mystery Quizzes
Where on Earth...? MISR Mystery Image Quiz #18
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Where on Earth...? MISR Mystery Image Quiz #18
04/28/2004

Here's another chance to play geographical detective! This natural-color image from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) represents an area of about 368 kilometers x 465 kilometers, and was captured by the instrument's vertical-viewing (nadir) camera in March, 2004. Use any reference materials you like and answer the following 5 questions.
This natural-color springtime view of northern and central France extends from Normandy in the upper left, to the Poitou region at lower left, and from the France-Belgium border in the upper right, to the Bourgogne (Burgundy) region at lower right.

1. The soils in the prominent pale tan area in the upper right are derived from marine fossil sediments that accumulated there over two million years ago. Partly because of its well-drained, chalky soils, this region is renowned for a particular agricultural product. What is that product?

Answer: "Grapes", "wine", and "champagne" were all accepted as correct answers.
The pale tan country is within a production area known as "La Champagne", best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the region's name. The deep chalky subsoil stores the sun’s heat and reflects warmth into the vine roots, in addition to assuring good drainage, preserving humidity in the soil and supplying mineral elements to the vines. The area of Champagne production was established by law in 1927 and is protected by a committee that administers vine growing and wine making in the region and protects the name of Champagne.

2. The large river apparent just above image center traverses agricultural, urban, pastoral and forested lands before emerging at the coast in the upper left. Below are three true statements about water quality in the river now, as compared with 30 years ago, and one false statement. Which one is the false statement?
(A) The concentration of dissolved oxygen in the waters of the river is now lower.
(B) The concentration of nitrates in the waters of the river is now higher.
(C) The concentration of phosphate in the waters of the river is now lower.
(D) The number of fish and the diversity of species found in the waters of the river are now higher.

Answer: A
Forty years ago the Seine River was nearly dead: Out of the 33 fish species that have been identified as belonging to the local ecosystem, only 3 of them could occasionally be spotted at Paris during the early 1960's. Today, twenty-six are commonly found within the Seine-Normandy river basin. After becoming seriously depleted in the 1960s, the dissolved oxygen content has also increased, with oxygen at one measuring station in the lower Seine increasing by 0.9 percent/year over the last 25 years. The levels of phosphate entering the Seine estuary, although still considered to be too high, have decreased from 60 t/day to 39 t/day between 1974 and 1999. However, the concentration of nitrate pollution from fertilizers continues to increase. For more information, see the World Water Assessment Program for the Seine-Normandy Basin.

3. The aforementioned river flows through a city, indicated by the pale purple-gray area above image center. Many of the city's notable architectural monuments are located along the river. Are the majority of these monuments situated upstream or downstream of the island at the city's center?

Answer:
Paris geography is centered on the Seine River. The ports and the center of commercial river traffic are upstream of the city center, Ile de la Cite. Downstream is the heart of aristocratic Paris, and includes the famous monuments such as Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

4. There are two wetland areas within the image that have been internationally recognized for their significance. Two of these statements are true for one wetland and the other two are true for the other wetland. In which combination (AB-CD, AC-BD or BC-AD) should the statements be paired?
(A) thousands of small man-made and semi-natural lakes are found here
(B) the sea eagle regularly spends its winters here
(C) there are 50 different types of dragonfly found here
(D) this lowland complex includes three major vegetation zones

Answer: AC- BD
There are two sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance within the image area. One of these sites is the Etangs de la Champagne Humide Regional Natural Park, located in the Champagne-Ardenne district. This lowland complex of rivers, reservoir lakes and forests, ponds, canals, gravel pits, reedbeds, wet meadows and alluvial forests encompasses three major vegetation zones and is an important site for wintering and passage of migratory waterbirds, including geese, ducks, cranes and herons. It is also the only regular French wintering site for the globally threatened sea eagle. The other site is the La Brenne Regional Natural Park, situated in the plateau region of the Centre district. La Brenne is one of the most important areas of etangs (lakes) in France, including about 1,500 semi-natural lakes and ponds, many of which were formed by levee construction in the Middle Ages. The landscape includes heath, forests, wet meadows, dry grasslands, cultivated land and numerous fish farms. The diverse fauna includes 50 dragonfly species, 150 migratory birds, 10 reptiles and 14 amphibians.

5. Two clusters of very dark brown pixels surrounded by green, are apparent in the top right-hand corner and at the right-hand edge toward the bottom. Which of the following best describes both of these areas in terms of surface characteristics?
(A) low-lying pasture and cropland
(B) high-country forest
(C) low-lying forest
(D) high-country pasture and cropland

Answer: B
The best description for the clusters of very dark brown pixels surrounded by green is high-country forest. In the top right-hand corner the dark areas correspond with forests within the hilly Ardennes region. Although the hills of the Ardennes rarely rise above 500 meters, this terrain is high-country compared with the surrounding districts. The dark area at the right-hand edge toward the bottom of the image is a "mountainous" granite outcrop in Burgundy called the Monts du Morvan, whose name comes from the Gaulish for "black mountain". The highest summit within the Monts du Morvan is slightly above 900 meters.


115 people from all over the world sent in responses before the deadline. Individuals who answered all 5 questions correctly are listed below in the order in which responses were received. The prize winners are indicated by an asterisk.

  1. Jacques Allemand, Annecy, France
  2. Regina Seiler, Lucerne, Switzerland
  3. Benjamin Steele, Oak Park, CA, USA*
  4. BC, Los Angeles, CA, USA*
  5. Florence Broc, Quebec City, Canada*
  6. Adrian Cotter, San Francisco, CA, USA
  7. Philippe Delacrétaz, Romanel near Lausanne, Switzerland
  8. Thomas Walter, Herrliberg, Switzerland
  9. Christof Nolte, Basel, Switzerland
10. Daniel Wright, Tampa, FL, USA
11. Peter Riolo, Parma, Italy
12. Claude Largy, Brunoy, France
13. Thomas Schwarzenbach, Zurich, Switzerland
14. Eric Mainville, Orleans, ON, Canada
15. Herve Barrier, East Brunswick, NJ, USA
16. differding dif, Roisvierges, Luxembourg
17. Melanie Taylor, Greenbelt, MD, USA
18. Adam Danger, North Pomfret, VT, USA
19. Paul De Krock, Olen, Belgium
20. Timotej Verbovsek
21. Andrzej Szuksztul, Gdansk, Poland
22. Shirley J. Kelley, San Francisco, CA, USA

MISR was built and is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, for NASA's Office of Earth Science, Washington, DC. The Terra satellite is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.

Credit: Image credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team.
Text acknowledgment: Clare Averill (Raytheon / Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

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