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

As a passionate science communicator, Jesse Rogerson loves promoting science literacy to the public. He frequently represents the Canada Aviation and Space Museum on television and radio, social media, and at conferences. A trained and practicing astrophysicist, Jesse holds a PhD in observational astrophysics from York University, and publishes his research in peer-reviewed journals. Jesse enjoys riding his motorcycle, board games, and ultimate frisbee.