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From: Dan Richter (1:317/3)
To: All
Date: Tue, 06.04.21 13:00
MODIS Pic of the Day 06 April 2021
April 6, 2021 - Ephemeral Lake Mackay


Lake MacKay

Straddling the border between Australia’s Northern Territory and
Western Australia, and surrounded by the red soils of the Central
Desert region, ephemeral Lake Mackay owns the title of the
fourth-largest lake in Australia. As a highly saline lake, the surface
is encrusted with salt during the frequent dry spells and it supports
little vegetation except on a few islands and surrounding clay pans.
Lake Mackay is dotted with numerous islands while the surrounding sandy
plains hold freshwater swamps and pans, all of which creates a complex
and intricate ecosystem.

Like many of the ephemeral lakes that are sprinkled across the
landscape of northern and western Australia, Lake Mackay infrequently
fills through seasonal rainfall that runs off nearby lands and seeps
into the lake through small drainage channels. When water comes to Lake
Mackay, so do a variety of shorebirds and water birds such as Banded
Stilts, Red-necked Avocet, and Australian Bustard. The lake is listed
as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International.

On April 1, 2021, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer
(MODIS) on board NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a stunning true-color
image of Lake Mackay surrounded by red soils. White salt encrusts the
edges of the lake while green-tinted water fills much of the basin,
especially in the Western Australia portion. Parts of Queensland and
New South Wales experienced extremely heavy rains and flooding in the
late March. While those torrential rains did not directly affect Lake
Mackay or the desert, smaller amounts fell locally and have accumulated
in the ephemeral lake. Once flooded, Lake Mackay tends to dry
slowly—seasonal rainwater may linger for as long as six months.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 4/1/2021
Resolutions: 1km (113 KB), 500m (284.2 KB), 250m (165.5 KB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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