Seven years ago, the coastal host city of the Winter Olympics was nearly barren. Everything visible here was built from scratch, from hotels, ice arenas, stadiums, and ski facilities to dozens of bridges, tunnels, and miles of new roads and railways.
Sochi itself, a city of about 400,000 people, isn’t even in this north-looking image, captured last month by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft. The city of Sochi lies farther west along the coast, past the newly overhauled airport at the bottom left.
In this image, a mix of visible and near-infrared light, vegetation is red, snow white, buildings gray, and the ocean dark blue. The circular area on the shoreline at the bottom of the image is the Sochi Olympic Park Coastal Cluster. The cluster houses the Bolshoy Ice Dome, which held the Opening Ceremony and skating competitions. The Games’ alpine events take place in the Mountain Cluster, located in a snow-capped valley at the top right of the photo.
Sochi was an odd pick for the Winter Games. The region has a subtropical, humid climate. Temperatures rarely dip below freezing for long periods of time during the winter, averaging out at about 52 degrees in the winter, making Sochi the only place in Russia without a “real” winter.