Stunning view of a bloom from space
By PHIL PLAIT - BAD ASTRONOMY
Added: Sun, 15 Jan 2012 18:50:35 UTC
Almost exactly one year ago, I posted a beautiful picture of a phytoplankton bloom as seen from space. And here’s another one, and it’s way, way more spectacular!
This shot of a bloom in the southern Atlantic Ocean was taken by the ESA’s Envirosat, which — duh — is designed to observe our environment. In this case, scientists keep a keen eye on phytoplankton blooms: while this bloom is breathtaking and gorgeous, many can be hazardous. Besides producing toxins that can harm sea life, they can also consume more oxygen in the water than usual, which is obviously tough on any life in the area. The color of the bloom can be found quickly using satellite imagery like this, and the algae species determined. Also, phytoplankton are sensitive to some climate changes, so observing them can act as a "canary in the coal mine" for climate change.
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