Koolau Range in Near Infrared Light

November 28, 2008

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Photographer: David Harrington, University of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy
Summary Author: David Harrington

This is an aerial near infrared shot of the Koolau Mountain range - one of two ranges making up the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The range is roughly 37 miles (60 km) long with the two peaks of Konahuanui being 3,150 ft and 3,105 ft (960 m and 946 m). Koolau translates as "windward" - the trade winds blow off the ocean from the north-east and hit these massive cliffs. This sudden rise results in the strong orographic effect of huge amounts of rainfall. The center of this range often receives over 200 inches (over 5,000 mm) of rainfall per year, while locations just a few miles downwind or "Kona" (like the coffee) receive less than 50 inches (1,270 mm). This shot was taken from a glider plane that could soar all day in the strong lift, consistently provided by the trade winds. The sharp cliffs are thought by many to come from massive land-slides that sent debris over 100 miles (161 km) into the surrounding ocean basin.

Photo details: Canon EOS 10MP Digital Rebel XTi, with infrared modifications, using a Tamron 18-200 mm lens at a focal length of 25mm. ISO 200, f/7.1.

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