Phenomena

Phytoplankton Swirls

A winter bloom of phytoplankton appears as green and teal swirls in this false-color satellite image of the Gulf of Aden. Although phytoplankton can be an important food source for fish and other marine animals, in recent years we’ve observed more frequent toxic blooms. Currently, physical sampling of the phytoplankton is necessary to determine what type they are, but scientists are working to use multi-spectral imaging to identify different species remotely. As harmful as they can be, blooms like these help visualize the flow and mixing in different coastal regions. Here, for example, we can see distinctive turbulent eddies in the Gulf that are tens of kilometers across. (Image credit: N. Kuring/NASA; via NASA Earth Observatory)

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