By late February, 2012, the great European cold wave had begun to loosen its frigid grip, but significant snow still remained in the region. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of snow in Italy on February 24 at 12:35 UTC (1:30 p.m. local time).
In the north of the image, bright white clouds blanket the region in a broad arc. Snow, which tends to be generally less bright that clouds, covers the Alps in the north of Italy. The Apennine Mountains, which form the backbone of the Italian peninsula, also carry a blanket of snow. Although clouds and snow can, at times, be distinguished visually in a true-color image, sometimes they can appear very similar. When it is important to clearly define snow from cloud, false color images are often helpful.