Those splashes of blue are melt ponds, or areas where the ice and snow have melted, leaving pools of water, speckled with floating chunks of ice.
The image to the right was captured by a digital camera mounted on NASA’s ER-2 airplane as it flew over southeastern Alaska on July 16, 2014.
The civilian version of the U.S. Air Force’s U2-S spy plane was flying at about 64,000 feet at that time, or about twice as high as the typical commercial jetliner.
The onboard camera takes a picture every 3 seconds, with each frame covering an area about 1 by 1.5 miles.
Beyond the photographing in visible light, the airborne laboratory also uses the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar (MABEL) to measure the elevation of glaciers, mountains, forests and other features on the surface.
The 2014 MABEL campaign lasted through July and was conducted, in part, to observe melt ponds and other features of summer ice.
Full story and image: NASA