The European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-2A satellite collected this false-color image over northwestern China near the border with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The featured Tian Shan mountain range stretches about 2,800 kilometers across this border region, making it one of the longest mountain ranges in Central Asia.
The glaciers of Tian Shan have lost about a quarter of their ice mass since the 1960s, and scientists estimate that half of the remaining glaciers will have melted by 2050. Glaciers are a key indicator of climate change, and their melting poses threats to communities downstream.
Sentinel-2’s imager can view the area in different parts of the spectrum, separating clouds from snow. In this image, clouds are white while snow appears blue. This is particularly important for mapping snow cover. A few clouds can been seen over the mountains near the center of the image, with thicker cloud cover in the valleys to the north.
This area of the Tian Shan mountains became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013.