Two Views of Ocean Eddies

Natural color satellite image of eddies off the coast of Italy.

Colorful, sediment-laden eddies swirl off the Italian coast in this satellite image. These small-scale eddies — less than 10 km in diameter — can be short-lived and are often difficult to capture in numerical models, but remote sensing can help scientists better understand their impact on oceanic mixing, especially when we capture more than one view of the same event.

The image below shows the same eddies in an infrared (thermal) view. The resolution on this instrument is not as fine as the natural color one, but we can still make out some of the same swirling motions. It’s also worth comparing the features we don’t see in both images. For example, the Cornia River discharges in infrared as a bright, white plume of cooler water, but it’s barely visible in the color-image, suggesting that the river is not contributing much sediment to the bay. (Image credit: USGS; via NASA Earth Observatory)

Infrared satellite image of waters off the coast of Italy.
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