Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC
Turquoise clouds of phytoplankton bloom throughout the North Sea (left) and the Skagerrak (between Norway, at top, Denmark, bottom, and Sweden, right) in this true-color Aqua MODIS image. Phytoplankton grow in nutrient-rich waters, and multiply very quickly; blooms big enough to be seen from space, like this one, can take only days to appear.
Also visible in this image are a number of streaky airplane contrails crossing the Skagerrak and North Sea. Contrails are thin ice clouds that form in the exhaust of planes high up in the atmosphere. The contrails fade over just a few hours, but the number of them apparent in this image gives an idea of just how common plane traffic is. This image was acquired on June 27, 2003.
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