2012 Year in Pictures: The Top 10 Most Striking Images

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Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring.

NASA's high-resolution “Blue Marble” image of Earth taken in January 2012 from the VIIRS instrument aboard the Suomi NPP satellite. The image is actually a composite of many pictures from Jan. 4, 2012 that were stitched together.

(See our Top 10 images from 2012 by following the page links below)

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Credit: Twitpic via Angela Fritz. Taken by Samuel Shea of NWS Chicago.

A shelf cloud at the leading edge of the severe thunderstorms, taken in Illinois as the storms gathered strength. 

(See our Top 10 images from 2012 by following the page links below)

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Credit: Jeffrey Arguedas/European Pressphoto Association

A crocodile and turtle face off at the Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve in Costa Rica, a country that produces 95 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy sources and has made a pledge to become a carbon neutral country by 2021.

(See our Top 10 images from 2012 by following the page links below)

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Credit: Isaac Borrego/flickr

The lucky folks who lived in a swath of the country from Northern California into Nevada on May 20, 2012 got to see what’s known as an annular eclipse, the first visible in the U.S. in 18 years.

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Credit: Cristobal Serrano/HBW-World Bird Photo Contest

A pelagic cormorant fishes for its next meal. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, fish populations will most likely change and move with predicted models of climate change. 

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Credit: Lincoln Harrison/Caters News

This image, taken from the Australian Outback, was captured from a camera pointed at the South Celestial Pole, directly over the Earth’s South Pole, allowing you to see what amounts to a mirror image of Earth’s rotation on its axis.

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Credit: Stephen Dalton/NPL/Pestival

The axolotl, a rare Mexican salamander (this particular one is of the albino variety), is on its last legs. The axolotl live only in a particular lake complex on the outskirts of Mexico City where, according to National Geographic, urbanization has pushed the species to near extinction.

(See our Top 10 images from 2012 by following the page links below)

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Credit: Palíndromo Mészáros

While this image may look like a product of Photoshop, it's not; it's very real. It's from Spanish photographer, Palíndromo Mészáros, who documented a Hungarian forest that was discolored by caustic waste.

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Credit: Daniel Botelho/Barcroft Media

A diver swims with a huge ocean sunfish, or Mola mola, off the coast of San Diego. 

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Credit: U.S. Air Force

A roller coaster is battered by waves off a Hurricane Sandy-destroyed pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.