Phenomena

Phytoplankton Swirl

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Every summer, phytoplankton spread across the northern basins of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, with blooms spanning hundreds and sometimes thousands of kilometers. One of our Earth-observing satellites captured this natural-color image of striking swirls of green seawater rich with blooms of phytoplankton whirling in the Gulf of Finland, a section of the Baltic Sea. Note how the phytoplankton trace the edges of a vortex; it is possible that this ocean whirlpool is pumping up nutrients from the depths. Credit: NASA/U. S. Geological Survey/ Joshua Stevens/Lauren Dauphin #nasa #science #vortex #phytoplankton #earth #landsat #picoftheday #finland #earthview #views #satellite #lava #balticSea #beautiful #blooms

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During the warm summer months, phytoplankton blooms pop up in waters around the world. This natural-color satellite image shows a bloom in the Gulf of Finland. The tiny phytoplankton serve as tracker particles for the flow, revealing large-scale features like the spectacular vortex in the center of this image. The presence of the phytoplankton here suggests that this vortex could be pumping nutrients up from the deep. 

Researchers also use particles for flow visualization. This can be as simple as adding small, neutrally buoyant particles, illuminating smoke, or even using natural snowfall to see what’s happening in the flow. (Image credit: NASA/USGS/J. Stevens/L. Dauphin)

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