This Is What Sochi Looks Like From Space

The Olympic city, built from scratch, is tough to miss on an otherwise barren landscape.

National Journal
Marina Koren
Feb. 12, 2014, 5:39 a.m.

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.