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Where on Earth...? MISR Mystery Quizzes
Where on Earth...? MISR Mystery Image Quiz #6
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(See quiz questions or a list of previous quizzes.)

Where on Earth...? MISR Mystery Image Quiz #6

Here's another chance to play geographical detective! This Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) image covers an area of about 298 kilometers x 358 kilometers, and was captured by the instrument's vertical-viewing (nadir) camera on December 27, 2001. Use any reference materials you like and answer the following five questions:

1. The large lagoon in the image is named for a particular type of bird. Name the bird.

The "Lagoa dos Patos", in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, translates to "the Duck Lagoon". It was named by 16th century Jesuit settlers, who asked the King of Spain to grant them title to the lagoon so that they could breed ducks. The King consented, but revoked his edict when he discovered that the "duck-pond" (measuring about 14,000 square kilometers) was one of the largest lagoonal systems in the world.

2. Note the sediment plume emanating from the southern end of the lagoon. Sailors in the 16th century imagined this outlet to be the mouth of a large river. What did they call the river?

Early Portuguese explorers mistook the entrance to the lagoon for the mouth of a great river and called it the Rio Grande.

3. A series of wave-like points and curls form "cusps" on the inner shores of the lagoon. Which ONE of the following is most responsible for the formation of these cusps?
(A) Violent storm impacts on erosion and accretion
(B) Wind and tide-driven sediment transport and circulation
(C) Tectonic folding associated with nearby mountain ridges
(D) Bathymetric effects of dredging operations

Answer: B
The lagoon's characteristics change with short-term tide-induced cyclic perturbations, and with longer term large scale meteorological conditions. The distinctive wavelike "cusps" along the inner shores result from the circulation, erosion and accumulation of sediments driven by wind and tidal action.

4. True or false: Changes in regional precipitation associated with large scale atmospheric circulation patterns have no effect on the salinity of the lagoon's water.

Answer: FALSE
The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) circulation affects precipitation amount and continental runoff, thereby changing the contents of the lagoon waters. High rainfall and increased freshwater discharge of El Niño correspond with elevated dissolved nutrient concentrations and increased phytoplankton growth. La Niña years are dry, and low rainfall reduces the freshwater recharge to the lagoon, causing an increase in salinity.

5. Which one of these is NOT distributed within the area covered by this image?
(A) Ruppia maritima
(B) Chelonia mydas
(C) Tapirus bairdii
(D) Microcystis aeruginosa

Answer: C
Occasional blooms of toxic cyanobacteria (Microcystis aeruginosa), have been registered in the lagoon when nutrient concentrations are elevated. A number of reeds and grasses are important to the lagoon estuary, including widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima) which reaches peak production during summer. Sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) can be found in the lagoon during spring and summer. Although the lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) is found in some parts of Rio Grande do Sul, the Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii), is not distributed within the image area (it is restricted to Central America).

83 people from all over the world sent in responses before the deadline. Individuals who answered all five questions correctly are listed below. The prize winners are indicated by asterisks.

  1. Tuure Laurinolli, Oulu, Finland*
  2. Christopher Ferro, Wheeling, WV USA*
  3. Bob Portnell, Sparks, NV USA*
  4. David Haycock, Tucson, AZ USA
  5. Nicolas Chagnon, Ottawa, Canada
  6. Monika Draga, Bad Kissingen, Germany
  7. Ravi Pathak, Vancouver, BC Canada
  8. Duane Reichert, Redmond, WA USA
  9. Jude A. Smith, Columbus, OH USA
10. Agustin Lobo, Barcelona, Spain
11. Eduardo Tesheiner, Madrid, Spain
12. Sungat Altis, Diamondhead, MS USA
13. Eduardo Cifuentes, San Juan, Puerto Rico
14. Thierry Arbault, Lille, France
15. David E. Wilkins, Boise, ID USA
16. Andy Massey, Woodstock, CT USA
17. Mark Matheson, Corvallis, OR USA
18. J.F. Brown, Sioux Falls, SD USA
19. David Kirschtel, Seattle, WA USA
20. Rudy Schutter, Fort Lauderdale, FL USA
21. Paul Marsden, Melbourne, Australia
22. Nathan Laredo, Santa Clara, CA USA
23. Robert Koelemeijer, Utrecht, The Netherlands
24. Holger Walter, Utrecht, The Netherlands
25. W.A. Sherwood, Bonn, Germany
26. Juan Pablo Ramognino
27. Bill Strider, Gaithersburg, MD USA
28. Peter Nash, Swinton, UK
29. Jason Perry, Leavenworth, KS USA
30. Bill Kinnersley, Lawrence, KS USA
31. Allen and Alison, Ottawa, Canada
32. Jesus M. Goiri, Bilbao, Euskadi, Spain
33. Fernanda Meneses, Quito, Ecuador
34. Wojciech B., Poland
35. Luca Pietranera, Rome, Italy
     Carlo Coretti, Rome, Italy
     Grazia Ciminelli, Rome, Italy
     Paolo Cecamore, Rome, Italy
     Marco Geraci, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
36. Jaime Rivière, Madrid, Spain
37. Jorge Márquez, Mar del Plata, Argentina
38. K. Hikida, Kamakura, Japan
39. Elke Delvoye and Joost Vandenabeele, Brussels, Belgium
40. Sammy Dalewyn, Brussels, Belgium
41. Jason Wolfe, Broomfield, CO, USA
42. Steve Ford, Ukiah, CA, USA
43. Philippe Thélin, Aïre, Switzerland

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.