NASA Photographs Phytoplankton Bloom From Space

The NASA image captures the essence of the ocean and how interconnected everything really is.

This image shows a phytoplankton bloom in the North Atlantic ocean. Photo by NASA
This image shows a phytoplankton bloom in the North Atlantic ocean. Photo by NASA

NASA has released a fairly remarkable image of a phytoplankton bloom that was captured in September using the Suomi NPP weather satellite. The camera used to capture the image is called the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). The device captures all the data but scientists combine the red, green, and blue infrared band data captured by the VIIRS with chlorophyll level data collected from the North Atlantic Ocean. The result is the beautiful canvas of phytoplankton as it blooms in the ocean.

The scientists say that as the blooming begins, organic molecules are released into the seawater and these molecules often end up in the air as sea spray. That phytoplankton rich sea spray has been measured as far away as coastal monitoring stations in Ireland, said Rich Moore, deputy project scientist for NASA’s North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) and a researcher at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.  Moore said that NAAMES will try to gather related data out in the middle of the ocean in an effort to determine how these blooms affect change, if any, in atmospheric aerosols and if they have any impact on clouds and regional climate.

The science aside, the image of the phytoplankton blooms is pretty incredible. It really captures the essence of the ocean and how interconnected everything really is.

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