The images show parched, brown Earth as far as the eye can see.
Alexander Gerst has been enjoying the view from the International Space Station (ISS) since June, but earlier this week as he orbited over his homeland, he was shocked by what he saw. Courtesy of the record breaking heatwave in Europe, nearly the entire country of Germany is parched and brown.
He shared the photos on Twitter:
Konnte eben die ersten Bilder von Mitteleuropa und Deutschland bei Tag machen, nach mehreren Wochen von Nacht-Überflügen. Schockierender Anblick. Alles vertrocknet und braun, was eigentlich grün sein sollte. #Horizonspic.twitter.com/wPfE97kV6N— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) August 6, 2018
The image on the left shows the area surrounding the town of Cologne on the Rhine River in North Rhine Westphalia, where the European Space Agency (ESA) makes its base. Even the land around the river, which is normally lush, has turned brown. On the right is a wider view of Centeral Europe, which looks like a scene from late autumn.
A couple days later, Gerst posted images of Germany taken from the ISS in 2014, to give a sense of what the area normally looks like.
Hier zum Vergleich ein paar Fotos von 2014. Krasser Unterschied, mit bloßem Auge aus dem Weltraum sichtbar…— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) August 8, 2018
Here for comparison a few photos from 2014, big difference, visible from space with the naked eye… pic.twitter.com/obFZQb5VC1
This summer’s European heatwave has given way to interesting stories, from finding the childhood home of Saint Plunkett in Ireland to thousands of fish dying due to increased temperatures of the Rhine. Gerst also shared images of a wildfire kicking up dust for miles in Portugal.
Dramatische Wetterlage heute über Portugal. Sieht nach einer Mischung aus Staub, Sand und Rauch aus.— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) August 6, 2018
Dramatic weather pattern over Portugal today. Looks like a mixture of dust, sand and smoke. #Horizonspic.twitter.com/Nkp0yllxpj
Thankfully, some rain has passed over France and Germany since Gerst took those pictures, which mercifully lowered the temperature a bit.
Alexander Gerst is a geophysicist and volcanologist who went up to the ISS in June alongside NASA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. DW.com mentions that he is in space working on 50 European experiments including some that may shed light on how muscles and the brain react to living away from Earth.
On my weekly Saturday morning #cleaning duties, after having a cappuccino. Most effectively performed with a sound box in my cargo pants pocket, fully cranked up, playing "Sugar" by @robin_schulz. I know – whatever works… #Horizonspic.twitter.com/KQDemoZqfO— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) August 4, 2018