Standing in one place among countless other spots on the planet, most of which we'll never see firsthand, it can be hard to grasp the totality of the geologic and meteorological forces behind the natural disasters that shape our planet and our lives.
But the view from space can help put that awesome power in perspective.
International Space Station astronauts were taken aback when they looked down into the eye of supertyphoon Maysak in early April, 2015. The center of the huge storm was 19 miles wide.
"By far the widest one I've seen," tweeted astronaut Terry Virts.
Winds swirl the smoke from multiple wildfires in Siberia in 2012. Over 17,000 wildfires burned more than 74 million acres that summer as NASA's Aqua satellite observed and captured images like this one.
This LandSat 5 image captures the path of damage left by a tornado as it tracked across the ground from Springfield to Sturbridge, Massachusetts, on June 1, 2011.
Published:Caption:Eric MackPhoto:NASA/USGS, Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen
Big bad wolf
In May, the largest mountain in the Galapagos Islands, Wolf Volcano, erupted for the first time in three decades, sending a stream of lava into the Pacific Ocean. NASA's Earth Observatory captured the geologic tumult.
A Pleiades satellite managed by France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) captured this shot of the aftermath of a landslide in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park on August 13, 2013. The debris covered a small finger of the Nabesna Glacier. The extent of the impact becomes more clear when compared with an earlier picture of the same spot, preslide.
The ravages of drought are apparent in this Landsat 8 image of Brazil's Jaguari Reservoir taken in August of 2014. The brown ring around the water shows its recession from what it looked like just a year earlier.