A vibrant overhead view of Melbourne from space • Earth.com

A vibrant overhead view of Melbourne from space

Today’s Image of the Day comes thanks to the NASA Earth Observatory and features a remarkable overhead view of the city of Melbourne, Australia. The photo was taken late last year by a member of the NASA Expedition 49 crew while flying over Australia aboard the International Space Station.

Melbourne is the second most populous city in Australia (just behind Sydney) with an estimated 4.5 million people. The city is located in the southeastern portion of the Australian mainland in the state of Victoria.

The Yarra River runs through the center of the city, seen in the image as a dark blue line. The city center appears darker in the photo due to the large shadows cast by densely-packed tall buildings.

The green patches in the center are city parks, the largest of which, Albert Park, contains a long, sprawling reservoir.

Because Melbourne is located in between the hot inlands of Australia and the cool Southern ocean, the weather conditions vary constantly. The air quality, however, is reliably good and has improved drastically since the 1970s and 1980s.

But because of its consistently hot and dry summers, Melbourne is frequently on drought-watch. The famous Millennium drought lasted from 1995 until 2009 and is considered by many to be the worst Australian drought since European settlement. 2006 was the driest year on record, so bad that the government had to implement water restrictions and offer incentives on water recycling and household water tanks.

Because of its low density housing and wide suburban sprawl, resulting in a high level of car dependence, Melbourne has one of those largest urban footprints in the world. So in 2002, the city pledged to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2020.

By Rory Arnold, Earth.com Staff Writer

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