The Barents Sea transformed by phytoplankton Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a brilliantly colored phytoplankton bloom in the Barents Sea. Almost every year in this region – just north of Norway and Russia – phytoplankton blooms appear in satellite images.
Nutrients are abundant and well-mixed in the Barents Sea in the spring and early summer, and these conditions are just right for microscopic phytoplankton called diatoms to thrive. As they multiply and expand, their silica shells and chlorophyll turn the surface waters green.
By late July and into fall, the water becomes more stratified and contains fewer nutrients. According to NASA, these changes benefit a different type of phytoplankton – coccolithophores. Covered with plates of highly reflective calcium carbonate, coccolithophores transform the surface waters into a milky turquoise blue.
“It is possible this is a mixed bloom,” said Andrew Orkney, a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford. “Mixed blooms of coccolithophores and another important bloom-forming group, the diatoms, have been observed off the Norwegian coast in previous years.”
The image was captured on July 15, 2021 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory