The microscopic, plant-like organisms known as phytoplankton bloom across the North Atlantic in spring and autumn.
This image was taken on 23 September with the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP, a weather satellite operated by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NASA explains how the image was processed.
The image was composed with data from the red, green, and blue bands from VIIRS, in addition to chlorophyll data. A series of processing steps were then applied to highlight colour differences and bring out the bloom’s more subtle features.
“The image does a beautiful job of showing the close link between ocean physics and biology,” said Michael Behrenfeld, a phytoplankton ecologist at Oregon State University.
“The features that jump out so clearly represent the influence of ocean eddies and physical stirring on the concentration of phytoplankton pigments and, possibly, coloured dissolved organic matter.”
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.