June 4, 2014 - Phytoplankton bloom in the North Sea

Phytoplankton bloom in the North Sea

A massive phytoplankton bloom continued to tint the North Sea with spectacular jewel tones throughout May, 2014. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true color image on May 30 as it passed over the region.

The swirling turquoise colors seen in the deep blue waters are the result of millions of the tiny plant-like organisms floating in the North Sea, and are created by the chlorophyll present within the phytoplankton. Various species contain different pigments, and tend to stain the water different colors. It is likely the milky tone indicates an abundant population of coccolithophores may be present. This type of organism has calcium carbonate scales, which lend a white tone to their coloration.

An earlier image of this bloom, captured about two weeks earlier (May 16) was the MODIS Image Of The Day on May 23. It can be found here: http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/individual.php?db_date=2014-05-23

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 5/30/2014
Resolutions: 1km (83.6 KB), 500m (299.8 KB), 250m (749 KB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC