Earth from Space: An icy Sakhalin Island
The Sakhalin Island, a large elongated island located in the North Pacific, is featured in this Envisat image.
Sakhalin is roughly 948 km long and 160 km wide and covers some 76 400 sq km. The narrow Strait of Tartary (visible on the left in light gray) separates it from the east coast of Russia and the Strait of La Pérouse separates it from the northern part of Japan.
The Western and Eastern Sakhalin Mountain Ranges run down the island side by side from north to south, separated by the Tym-Poronaiskaya Valley; Tym and Poronai are also the names of the island’s main rivers. At 1609 metres, Mount Lopatin, on the Eastern Mountain Range, is the island’s highest peak.
Sakhalin, a former penal colony and Soviet military outpost, is prone to earthquakes, which sometimes trigger mudslides, and is covered in ice during the winter months. The surrounding cool waters are very fertile and support enormous fisheries.
The fish in the Sea of Okhotsk (the black body of water peering beneath wind blown ice seen on the right) feed well over three million pairs of seabirds, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Sakhalin is also the only known feeding ground for the critically endangered Western Pacific Gray Whale.
Sakhalin has vast reserves of oil and gas, and international consortia of energy companies have entered into agreements to develop the resources.
This image was acquired by Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument on 26 February 2007, working in Full Resolution mode to provide a spatial resolution of 300 metres.