With Valentine's Day in mind, Copernicus Sentinel-2 brings you this image which captures the beauty of the little heart-shaped island of Moorea in the South Pacific.
Moorea is the second largest island in the French Polynesia's Society Archipelago, about 20 km northwest of Tahiti, the largest island. Moorea is part of a chain of islands formed by hot-spot volcanism. This means that volcanoes are created by 'fixed' hot areas in Earth's mantle. Because of plate tectonics, the plate gradually moves away from over the hotspot, carrying a volcano with it while a new volcanoes form in a chain behind.
These kinds of islands are constantly changing, eroding and sinking back into the ocean over millions of years. However, changes are taking place at a much faster rate because of the marks human activity leaves on the natural landscape and because of climate change.
Moorea is a high island – rugged and mountainous with fertile soils. The image has not only been processed in red for Valentine's Day, but the processing uses red to highlight vegetation.
Moorea's lush vegetation is one of the qualities that gives the island its beautiful tropical appearance. However, the island's vegetation has changed dramatically as human have shaped it for their uses over the 1,200 years or so since it was first inhabited.
The island is surround by coral reef. Coral reefs are among the most fragile ecosystems in the world, threatened by fishing and pollution, and rising temperatures, which are linked to ocean acidification – a coral killer. Thankfully, Moorea's reef is still relatively pristine and is home to an abundance of reef fish and corals that are high in diversity, indicating the robust condition of the ecosystem. However, runoff from agriculture, other pollution, ocean plastics and warming seas remain a threat.
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Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO