One the world's most rugged coastlines is located in Croatia along
the Adriatic Sea. This astronaut photograph features the Dalmatian
coastline of Croatia around the city of Split. Much of the region's
topography is characterized by northwest-southeast-oriented islands and
embayments of the Adriatic Sea. These distinctive coastal land forms
result from faulting (caused by tectonic activity in the region) and sea level rise since the end of the last ice age.
Split has a long history of human settlement. The Roman Emperor
Diocletian retired to Spalatum (present-day Split) in 305, and his
palace constitutes the core of the city today. The city is a popular
resort destination for its historic sites, Mediterranean climate, and
ready access to Adriatic Sea islands (such as Brač, to the south).
Other large cities in the region include Kaštela and Trogir; together
with Split, these form an almost continuous urban corridor along the
coast (visible as pink regions in the image).
A thin zone of disturbed water (tan patches) marking a water
boundary appears in the Adriatic Sea between Split and the island of
Brač. It may be a plankton bloom or a line of convergence between water
masses, which creates rougher water. A unique combination of
features-including dramatic topography that channels local winds, the
complicated coastline, input of fresh water from rivers, and ample
nutrients and natural surface oils-produce interesting mesoscale
surface dynamics throughout the Adriatic Sea. Over the years,
astronauts have taken images of the Split region using sunglint (the
mirror-like reflection of the Sun off water) and changes in water color
to highlight features like eddies, water boundaries and mixing zones
between fresh waters flowing into the saltier (denser) waters of the
Adriatic, and wind-driven surface currents.
Split is an important transit center connecting islands in the
Adriatic Sea to the Italian peninsula, and it is an important regional
manufacturing center of goods such as solar cells, plastics, and paper
products. The city was heavily industrialized during the post-World War
II period as a member state of Yugoslavia. By the 1980s, the marine
environment bordered by Split, Kaštela, and Trogir (known as Kaštela
Bay) had become one of the most polluted areas of the Adriatic, both
from sewage and industrial pollution. Concerted efforts by the Croatian
government and international partners to improve waste handling and
treatment infrastructure over the past 10 years seem to have been
successful in improving water quality.
Astronaut photograph ISS019-E-5501
was acquired on April 9, 2009, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera fitted
with a 180 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations
experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson
Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 19 crew. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program
supports the laboratory to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that
will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make
those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken
by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.