Summer blooms in the Atlantic Ocean •

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the bright colors of summer blooms off the coast of southern Wales and southwestern England. The image was captured on June 3, 2022 when NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the region.

“Bright blue-green waters indicated an abundance of phytoplankton just beyond Bristol Channel,” reports NASA. “Hints of a bloom here first appeared in mid-May, as revealed by two weeks of data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on Aqua. (The waters off the southwest coast of Ireland have also been blooming.) The various swirls and shapes in the bloom trace the movements of currents, eddies, and tides.”

“Phytoplankton are usually most abundant in the far North Atlantic and the North Sea in late spring and early summer, when dissolved nutrient levels are high. Melting snow and ice and spring rains bring increased runoff into the sea, often bearing a heavy load of sediment and organic matter while freshening surface waters.”

According to NASA, recent Sahara dust storms also may have dropped nutrients into the sea. The light-colored waters are likely to contain phytoplankton with calcium carbonate plates called coccolithophores, which appear chalky white when they accumulate in large numbers. 

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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