July 16, 2013 - Phytoplankton in and Canadian smoke over the North Sea

Phytoplankton in and Canadian smoke over the North Sea

A broad band of smoke, originating in Canada, blew across the North Sea on July 6, 2013, obscuring a brilliant bloom of phytoplankton that colored the blue waters below. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra captured this true-color image at 10:35 UTC (6:35 a.m. EDT) on that same day.

In the northeast, snow clings to the peaks of Norway’s Scandinavian Mountains while in the northwest a broad bank of highly reflective, bright white clouds cover most of Scotland. The wide, gray-toned veil in the center of the image is a smoke from the far-away forest fires.

Bright turquoise-colored swirls in the water, peeking out from the smoke, mark the site of a large phytoplankton bloom. These plant-like organisms, which contain highly reflective pigments, including chlorophyll, commonly grow rapidly in this region in the summer, when the combination of nutrients, light and water temperature are favorable.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 7/6/2013
Resolutions: 1km (124.7 KB), 500m (424.1 KB), 250m (1.1 MB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC