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From columns of cloud streaking over the Caspian Sea in January to vast tracts of cleared forest in Bolivia in December. In 2008, the NASA Earth Observatory has captured more stunning images of the Earth.

The accompanying photo gallery is a just small taste of the hundreds of images available. The Earth Observatory online library stretches back to 1999, providing a graphic snapshot of how nature and man create changes on the surface of the planet.

In February, dust storms can be seen curling off the coast of Morocco, carrying plumes of sand out across the Atlantic Ocean. NASA suggest that these storms could be the result of stresses on the land surface -- such as overgrazing and damage to vegetation -- caused by humans. Read full article »

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