What Can We Learn from Sunglint?

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A satellite image of the arabian sea.
NASA's Terra Satellite snapped this shot of the Arabian Sea (image credit: NASA).

It's amazing what you can learn from a picture. Take, for instance, this shot taken by NASA's Terra Satellite. It is of the Arabian Sea near Oman. The Sun can easily be seen reflecting off the still water of the sea back to the satellite, a phenomenon known as called 'sunglint.' But what about the dark, snake-like feature stretching through the middle of the reflection? Turns out... it's choppy water! The wind churns the water slightly, making it not as reflective as still water. Using an image like this, scientists can learn about the wind and water patterns. An satellite image is worth a thousand scientific models.

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What Can We Learn from Sunglint?
NASA Earth Observatory
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Jesse Rogerson, PhD

Jesse is a passionate scientist, educator, and science communicator. As an assistant professor at York University in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, he teaches three classes: History of Astronomy, Introduction to Astronomy, and Exploring the Solar System. He frequently collaborates with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and lends his expert voice to the Ingenium Channel. Jesse is an astrophysicist, and his research explores how super massive black holes evolve through time. Whether in the classroom, through social media, or on TV, he encourages conversations about how science and society intersect, and why science is relevant in our daily lives.