June 23, 2014 - Phytoplankton bloom in the North Sea

Phytoplankton bloom in the North Sea

The North Sea hosted a massive spring bloom of phytoplankton which peaked in late May and early June, 2014. By mid-June the swirling colors appeared to be fading as summer approached.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image of the blurred, somewhat ghostly bloom on June 11 as it passed over the region. The muted blues and greens are centered in the North Sea about halfway between England (west) and Denmark (east).

Phytoplankton blooms are common in this region in spring, when lengthening daylight, increasing temperatures and the upwelling of nutrient-rich waters combine to create conditions favorable for explosive growth of the tiny plant-like organisms. A bloom contains millions of organisms and can remain visible from space for many weeks, yet each individual phytoplankton lives only days.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 6/11/2014
Resolutions: 1km (69.5 KB), 500m (214.1 KB), 250m (526.7 KB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC