The Great Lakes

The Great Lakes
  • Credit:

    Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

The deep blue and green waters of the Great Lakes stand out against the snow-covered landscape of the northern United States and southern Canada in this true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image. The image, acquired on December 26, 2003, by the Terra satellite, shows Lake Superior in the far north, with Lakes Michigan (west) and Huron (east) arcing toward its southeastern tip. South of Huron, Lake Erie’s waters swirl with dense clouds of tan sediment, while Lake Ontario remains clear.

In this image, the Lakes are almost completely ice-free. As winter progresses and temperatures continue to fall through late January, February, and March, the lakes will grow increasingly thick crusts of ice. The waters won't thaw again until warm spring temperatures arrive sometime in April.

Images & Animations


File Dimensions

  • 1300x1000
  • JPEG 417 KB
  • 2600x2000
  • JPEG 2 MB
  • 5200x4000
  • JPEG 4 MB

Note: Often times, due to the size, browsers have a difficult time opening and displaying images. If you experiece an error when clicking on an image link, please try directly downloading the image (using a right click, save as method) to view it locally.


  • Data Date:

    December 26, 2003
  • Visualization Date:

    January 6, 2004
  • Sensor(s):

    Terra - MODIS


NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration