The Great Escarpment In South Africa • Earth.com

Last update: October 15th, 2019 at 1:07 pm

On a clear winter’s day in early July, 2015, NASA’s Terra satellite passed over the southernmost tip of Africa. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard captured this true-color image of South Africa on July 1.

South Africa is dominated by the Great Escarpment, the rugged mountain chain that marks the edge of the African Plateau. These mountains run inland from the coast and roughly paralleling it for about 5,000 km (3,100 mi). From the edge of the Escarpment to the ocean the land appears green – winter is the time when most of the rain falls in the Western Cape area of South Africa. Cloud covers the southern coast in this image. From the Great Escarpment inland the land appears various shades of brown – evidence of the arid climate of the region. Streaks of light tan mark the banks Breede River Valley, as well as tributaries within the valley. This valley is an agricultural center and produces large amounts of good quality fruit and wine.

The Cape of Good Hope forms a hook out from the mainland in the south, with the city of Cape Town marked by gray pixels in the crook of the hook. To the east is Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of the African continent. This is where the Indian Ocean (east) meets the Atlantic Ocean (west). Also known as the “Cape of Storms”, the windswept coastal plain is extremely biodiverse. Agulhas National Park reports approximately 2,000 species of indigenous plants and over 110 Red Data Book species living in the area.

NASA

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