The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

The line between barren desert and lush forest isn't a gentle transition at all — when viewed from space, it looks like a stark division.

This image of the American Southwest is just one of the Earth photos going on display this month at the Library of Congress as part of the "Earth as Art 3" exhibition. These are images gathered by EROS, which despite its sexy name is actually a part of the U.S. Geological Service that tracks natural disasters and geological features. The gorgeous images in the exhibition include the Roof of the World, a gigantic African volcano, and some stars made of ice. Check out more of our favorite images.

View more amazing images at the link. [EROS]

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

Erongo Massif, a sheer-walled mountain that rises nearly 4,000 feet above the Namibian Plains. It's the remains of a gigantic volcano that was active 150 million years ago before collapsing in on itself.

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

The Byrd Glacier, a river of ice in Antarctica.

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

Ice Stars. Chunks of sea ice drift through swirls of grease ice in the frigid waters of Foxe Basin near Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, looking like nothing so much as galaxies in space.

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

The Caicos Islands lie primarily along the northern perimeter of the submerged Caicos Bank (turquoise), a shallow limestone platform formed of sand, algae, and coral reefs covering 6,140 square kilometers (2,370 square miles).

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

Grease ice in the Baltic Sea. The turquoise swirls are grease ice, and the red stuff is the Aland Islands between Finland and Sweden.

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

The Anyuyskiy Volcano. The crimson streak at the center of the image is the remains of an extensive lava and mud flow. And the red dot at the end of the streak is the currently extinct volcano in northeastern Russia.

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

The Belcher Islands. In the middle of Canada's Hudson Bay.

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

Meighen Island. According to EROS, "A veil of blowing snow nearly obscures Meighen Island (left) off the northern coast of Canada. Across the Sverdrup Channel lies the much larger Axel Heiberg Island, where glaciers (blue) huddle among mountain peaks (yellow) and flow into deep fjords. No evidence of human occupation has ever been found on Meighen Island."

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

Ice Waves. According to EROS, "Along the southeastern coast of Greenland, an intricate network of fjords funnels glacial ice to the Atlantic Ocean. During the summer melting season, newly calved icebergs join slabs of sea ice and older, weathered bergs in an offshore slurry that the southward-flowing East Greenland Current sometimes swirls into stunning shapes. Exposed rock of mountain peaks, tinted red in this image, hints at a hidden landscape."

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

Island Rebound. According to EROS, "During the last ice age, Akimiski Island in Canada's James Bay lay beneath vast glaciers that pressed down with immense force. As the climate changed and the ice retreated, Akimiski began a gradual rebound. The island's slow but steady increase in elevation is recorded along its naturally terraced edges where the coastline seems etched with bathtub rings, the result of the rising landmass and wave action at previous sea levels."

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

Siberian Ribbons. According to EROS, "Vivid colors and bizarre shapes come together in an image that could be an imaginative illustration for a fantasy story. This labyrinth of exotic features is present along the edge of Russia's Chaunskaya Bay (vivid blue half circle) in northeastern Siberia. Two major rivers, the Chaun and Palyavaam, flow into the bay, which in turn opens into the Arctic Ocean. Ribbon lakes and bogs are present throughout the area, created by depressions left by receding glaciers."

The Sharp Boundary Between Desert and Forest

The Yukon Delta. Says EROS, "The Yukon River crosses Alaska, USA, before emptying into the Bering Sea. Countless lakes, sloughs, and ponds are scattered throughout this scene of the Yukon Delta. The river's sinuous, branching waterways seem like blood vessels branching out to enclose an organ."