Phytoplankton bloom off the coast of Argentina
Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC
Off the coast of Argentina (upper left) a large, colorful phytoplankton bloom is occurring in the South Atlantic Ocean. The colorful swirls are caused by light reflecting off pigments in tiny marine plants called phytoplankton. This area of the Atlantic is known for such blooms because of the turbulence created by a cold current flowing north past the Falkland Islands (bottom) from Antarctica and a warmer south-flowing current that hugs the South American coast. The turbulence draws cold, nutrient rich water up from deep in the ocean, and the phytoplankton spring to life. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite captured this image on December 7, 2002.