Blue Bloom in the North Atlantic

August 01, 2002


Provided by: NASA/GSFC, ORBIMAGE, SeaWiFS Project
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster; Norman Kuring

The above SeaWiFS satellite image, taken on July 29, 2002, shows a large patch of bright, blue colored water just south of the island of Newfoundland, which is likely a coccolithophore bloom. Coccolithophores are a type of phytoplankton. At certain times of the year, these microscopic organisms "bloom," often covering hundreds of square miles of the sea surface. The blooming results from the release of tiny scales or coccoliths into sea water. These scales can remain suspended in the water for several days, reflecting sunlight back to space. On the right side of the image, a weakening storm system, to the east of the turquoise colored waters, is moving northeastward across the North Atlantic Ocean.

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