On March 13, 2011, flood waters lingered along the Japanese coast north and east of Sendai in the aftermath of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. An astronaut on the International Space Station took this photograph of Higashimatsushima from an altitude of 220 miles (350 kilometers). Both agricultural fields and settled areas are submerged by muddy water, while the crisscrossing runways at Matsushima Airport are surrounded.
The March 11 earthquake caused severe damage to oil refineries, some of which caught fire. In the aftermath, oil floated on the surface of Ishinomaki Bay. In this photo, sunglint--the mirror-like reflection of the Sun on the ocean's surface--highlights the oil slicks; oil smooths the surface and makes the water more reflective. In this image, patches of oil tend to appear lighter than oil-free areas. Other phenomena, however, can lighten the water's appearance, especially close to the shore.