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Spacecraft nadir point: 41.5° N, 156.7° E

Photo center point: 45.0° N, 146.5° E

Nadir to Photo Center: West

Spacecraft Altitude: 220 nautical miles (407km)
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Image Caption: Sea of Okhotsk ice, Northern Japan

Patterns of sea ice in a spring panorama of the Sea of Okhotsk are featured in this image from the International Space Station. The image reveals dynamics of ocean currents that are otherwise difficult to visualize. Here we see nearly 1000 km of the East Sakhalin Current carrying winter ice south toward Japan's Hokkaido Island. The current is indicated by the narrow corridor of dense ice that hugs the coast of Sakhalin Island--slightly obscured under haze at image top left. Reaching the barrier of Hokkaido, the ice patterns show a series of eddies and swirls (image center). The current then turns and transports ice along the Kuril Island chain. Some ice spills through gaps where it is swept southwest by the Kuril Current (image lower right).

The East Sakhalin Current dies back in summer when the Soya Current (arrow far left) begins to enter the Sea of Okhotsk. This inrush of summer water starts in April (when this image was taken) and probably appears in the image as the ice pattern bulging to the east (between the small arrows).

Volcanic cones can be seen along the Kuril Islands (image bottom right), a continuation of the volcanic line of Hokkaido. Atmospheric haze (top left and upper margin) is likely industrial smog from China and Japan, made more visible at the top of the image by the oblique viewing angle.