Ephemeral lakes – like Lake Mackay, on the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory – are so named because they come and go, only existing as bodies of water after rain.
Lake Mackay, or Wilkinkarra in the local Pitjantjatjara language, is the fourth largest lake in Australia when it’s full, with a total surface area of almost 3500 square kilometres.
After significant rainfall, the lake fills modestly – only a few metres deep at most. The salt content and soil moisture provide a bluish hue, which is marbled with the green of desert vegetation and algae, and punctuated by brown sand hills.
The lake is cradled by the Great Sandy Desert, Australia’s second largest desert, which is visible in the lower right corner of the image.
This satellite photo is one of the first to be released from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2B satellite, which was launched in March 2017.
Originally published by Cosmos as A satellite view of a desert oasis
Amy Middleton is a Melbourne-based journalist.
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