Thursday, March 15, 2012

Phytoplankton from space, redux

An image taken by the Modis instrument on the NASA Terra satellite of a massive phytoplankton bloom in the East Antarctic (image NASA & Jan  Lieser).

A while ago I wrote about plankton blooms that were visible from space. Now a satellite image documents the biggest ever recorded plankton bloom in the Southern Ocean. The image above was taken 15 days after it was first detected (in mid-February), when it measured 200 km by 100 km. It's unclear what has caused the bloom, but it's suspected that strong offshore winds have carried nutrient filled snow from the Amery Ice Shelf out to sea. The Aurora Australis, the Australian Antarctic Division's research and resupply vessel, has visited the area near the bloom to collect water and algal samples. 

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