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The Caucasus: Earth Image of the Week September 10, 2010
MODIS image of Caucasus Region.
The lower parts of the Caucasus Mountains are in the greater Middle East. The range is generally perceived to be a dividing line between Asia and Europe.
Providing what many call the historic border between Europe and Asia, the Caucasus Mountains stretch roughly west to east from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea.

The image to the right was captured by the MODIS sensor orbiting on NASA’s Terra Satellite as it passed over the region at midday on September 1, 2010.

Mainly clear skies prevailed, except for some mountain cloudiness in the upper left of the image, where some snow-capped mountains also can be seen.

Europe’s highest mountain, Mount Elbvrus, is clearly visible in far southern Russia, near the Georgia border.

The Caucasus region is recognized as one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse on Earth. It has also been the arena where various wars for ethnic, military, political and religious domination have been fought for centuries. This includes the period since the breakup of the former Soviet Union.

There are more than 50 ethnic groups living in the region, with roots extending back to Biblical times. The word Caucasus itself derives from Caucas, the purported son of Togarmah — the grandson of Noah’s third son Japheth.

The modern states of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia lie to the south of Russia, and the main ridge line of the Greater Caucasus mountain range.

The unique alignment of the mountains provides a variety of climates, many of which have supported a vibrant agricultural economy for thousands of years.

The far southwest Georgia region of Adjara has one of the wettest, temperate climates in the northern hemisphere.

The west-facing slopes of the small Meskheti Range there receive up to 177 inches of precipitation per year. This is due to the “orographic” effect of prevailing winds off the Black Sea being lifted by the terrain, condensing the moisture into heavy precipitation.

Image: NASA MODIS Rapid Response System