Phenomena

Impressionist Gibraltar

Swirls of phytoplankton make this satellite image of Gibraltar look like an Impressionist painting. The photo is a composite of data from several instruments, with colors enhanced to highlight features of the phytoplankton blooms. The tiny plankton act as tracer particles that reveal some of the complex flow between the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Although narrow, the Strait at Gibraltar has deep and complex terrain that was formed during a breach flood event millions of years ago. Water flowing through that terrain sets up enormous and complicated waves well beneath the ocean surface. These drive some of the turbulence that we see here as the blue swirls east of the Strait. (Image credit: NASA/N. Kurig; via NASA Earth Observatory)

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