Taking a clear look at cloud-covered oceanic islands on a seasonal basis



All-weather spaceborne imaging of isolated oceanic islands is opening the door to some new, previously unfeasible studies of global environmental change.The first orbital synthetic aperture radar (SAR) views of some relatively small,yet important islands have provided icecover and other data that until recently have been impossible to gather.These islands, whose geologic histories are dominated by the interactions of volcanism, glacier dynamics, and marine erosion, are often cloud enshrouded but can be monitored by SAR regardless of cloud cover or solar illumination.

Oceanic islands are often overlooked components of the global Earth system. Yet their landscapes and ecosystems provide natural laboratories for investigating the effects of various natural and anthropogenic forcing factors in an essentially closed, controlled environment.