Phytoplankton blooms persist in the North Atlantic • Earth.com

Last update: March 4th, 2021 at 2:00 pm

Phytoplankton blooms persist in the North Atlantic Ocean Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features blooms of phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean, which have been unusually persistent and far-reaching this month. 

In the ocean near Newfoundland, Canada, the floating organisms had an abundance of sunlight, warm water, and nutrients which allowed them to thrive. Phytoplankton blooms persist in the North Atlantic Ocean

“This is not our typical fall phytoplankton bloom, which would be made up of diatoms,” said marine biologist Cynthia McKenzie of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. She explained that the late bloom is likely a result of “several weeks of sunlight – pretty rare for us in September – and higher than normal temperatures.”

The widespread bloom even survived Hurricane Dorian, which stormed through the region in early September. The Atlantic Ocean occupies an elongated, S-shaped basin extending longitudinally between Europe and Africa to the east, and the Americas to the west. As one component of the interconnected World Ocean, it is connected in the north to the Arctic Ocean, to the Pacific Ocean in the southwest, the Indian Ocean in the southeast, and the Southern Ocean in the south (other definitions describe the Atlantic as extending southward to Antarctica). The Atlantic Ocean is divided into two parts, by the Equatorial Counter Current, with the North(ern) Atlantic Ocean and the South(ern) Atlantic Ocean at about 8°N

“I thought the hurricane would have had an effect, but if anything it seems to have fueled its continuation,” said McKenzie. “Most of the heavy wind was on the western part of Newfoundland, so what we had was some wave action which may have brought more nutrients to the bloom from further down in the water column.”

The image was captured on September 1, 2019 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

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By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

 

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