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International Space Sta...
2006-12-12 0:0:0
 
Description ISS013-E-77377 (5 Sept. 2006) --- Bernese Alps, Switzerland is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 13 crewmember onboard the International Space Station. The formidable mountain system of the Alps stretches across much of central Europe, with seven countries claiming portions of the mountains within their borders (Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, and Slovenia). The glacial landscape of the Bernese Alps, located in southwestern Switzerland, is well illustrated by this view. The image was taken by a crewmember looking north-northwest while the station was located over the Mediterranean Sea between Corsica and Italy -- this oblique viewing angle imparts a sense of perspective to the image. This type of viewing angle complements more nadir (downward)--viewing imagery of the region. Three of the higher peaks of the central Alps are visible--Jungfrau (4,158 meters), Moench (4,089 meters), and Eiger (3,970 meters). To the east and south of the Jungfrau is the Aletsch Glacier, clearly marked by dark medial moraines extending along the glacier's length parallel to the valley axis. The moraines are formed from rock and soil debris collected along the sides of three mountain glaciers located near the Jungfrau and Moench peaks -- as these flowing ice masses merge to form the Aletsch Glacier, the debris accumulates in the middle of the glacier and is carried along the flow direction. According to geologists, Lake Brienz to the northwest was formed by the actions of both glacial ice and the flowing waters of the Aare and Lutschine rivers, and has a maximum depth of 261 meters. The lake has a particularly fragile ecosystem, as demonstrated by the almost total collapse of the whitefish population in 1999. Possible causes for the collapse, according to the scientists, include increased water turbidity associated with upstream hydropower plant operations, and reduction of phosphorus (a key nutrient for lake algae, a basic element of the local food web) due to water quality concerns.
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