Tags: nasa | phytoplankton | bloom | photo | satellite

NASA Phytoplankton Bloom Photos More Like 'Water Art' Come to Life

Image: NASA Phytoplankton Bloom Photos More Like 'Water Art' Come to Life
(earthobservatory.nasa.gov)

By    |   Wednesday, 16 Dec 2015 09:16 AM

NASA recently released a satellite image of a huge phytoplankton bloom in the North Atlantic Ocean that looks more like an artist's rendition than the real thing.

The bloom of phytoplankton — microscopic, plant-like organisms that are critical to carbon cycling — occur each spring and fall in the Atlantic Ocean, according to a statement on NASA's Earth Observatory website.

"It may look like a painting by Vincent van Gogh, but this mass of swirling colors is really a satellite image depicting a huge bloom of phytoplankton, or microscopic marine plant life, in the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean," LiveScience.com's Elizabeth Palermo wrote.

Weather patterns have made it difficult in the past for satellites to detect the blooms, but luckily the weather was clear enough for the Suomi-NPP to capture September's.

"A lot of what we don't know about ocean ecology has to do with the difficulty of sampling the ocean, whether it be from a storm-tossed ship or from a cloud-obstructed satellite," Norman Kuring, an ocean scientist with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in the NASA statement.

Michael Behrenfeld, a phytoplankton ecologist at Oregon State University, mentioned in the NASA statement that the image illustrates the importance of organisms in the ocean that are not often seen in such magnitude.

"The image does a beautiful job of showing the close link between ocean physics and biology," he said. "The features that jump out so clearly represent the influence of ocean eddies and physical stirring on the concentration of phytoplankton pigments and, possibly, colored dissolved organic matter."

The blog Plankton Portal wrote that plankton blooms are common throughout the world's oceans, depending on environmental conditions.

"Generally phytoplankton (plankton that use photosynthesis like plants) need nutrients and light to grow at very high rates," the blog stated. "Since light is readily available in the surface ocean, nutrient availability is the most important driver of phytoplankton blooms."

Some on social media appeared fascinated by the NASA images.



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NASA recently released a satellite image of a huge phytoplankton bloom in the North Atlantic Ocean that looks more like an artist's rendition than the real thing.
nasa, phytoplankton, bloom, photo, satellite
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2015-16-16
Wednesday, 16 Dec 2015 09:16 AM
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