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The Emerald Isle: Earth Image of the Week October 15, 2010
Satellite Image of Ireland
The brightness of this image was adjusted to reveal the lush green landscape that makes Ireland known as the "Emerald Isle."
A beautiful autumn day was in progress across Ireland on Monday, October 11, 2010 when NASA’s Terra satellite passed overhead at just after noon local time.

In the image to the right, captured at that time, shows almost entirely clear skies prevailing from sea to sea.

A rich carpet of lush green vegetation illustrates how Ireland acquired the designation of “The Emerald Isle.”

A mild climate with ample and frequent rainfall helps to keep the countryside green.

The oceanic climate, tempered by the Gulf Stream, produces changeable conditions that seldom include extremes in temperatures.

Interior areas have only about 40 days a year below freezing, while coastal locations freeze only about 10 days during winter.

Thick woodlands covered Ireland until the 17th century, but Monday's image illustrates that only a few patches of dark green forest can still be seen today. This makes Ireland the most deforested country in Europe.

A ring of coastal mountains surround low plains located at the center of Ireland. The island is divided between the Republic of Ireland, which covers just under five-sixths of the land mass, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

Image: NASA MODIS Rapid Response System