Phytoplankton off the coast of California
Images provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE
Strong currents off the coast of California are pulling nutrients from the sea floor to the surface. Called upwelling, the nutrient-rich waters are a boon to sea life, such that they often support thriving marine populations. On March 16, 2004, the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) captured these images of phytoplankton blooming in an upwelling area in the Pacific Ocean near California. Phytoplankton are microscopic marine plants that be seen from space when they grow in large colonies. Chlorophyll in the plants tints the water green in true-color satellite imagery, such as the top image. Here, natural variations in the water color are caused either by different phytoplankton communities or the same communities growing at different depths in the ocean. The lower image shows chlorophyll concentrations in bright colors. The highest concentrations, shown in red and black, are near the coast.
This image originally appeared on the Earth Observatory. Click here to view the full, original record.