Phytoplankton bloom in the Black Sea

Phytoplankton bloom in the Black Sea
  • Credit:

    Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Brightly colored waters in the Black Sea give evidence of the growth of tiny marine plants called phytoplankton, which contain chlorophyll and other pigments that reflect light different ways, producing the colorful displays. The very bright blue waters could be an organism called a coccolithophores, which has a highly reflective calcium carbonate coating that appears bright blue (or sometimes white) in true-color (visible) imagery. However, other organisms, such as cyanobacteria can also appear that color, and so often scientists will compare the ratios of reflectance at one wavelength of light to another to decide what organisms might be present. This series of images shows a bloom occurring in the Black Sea from May 11, 2002, to May 18.

Images & Animations


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  • Data Date:

    May 18, 2002
  • Visualization Date:

    May 24, 2002
  • Sensor(s):

    Terra - MODIS
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration