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.