The aerosol maps show average monthly aerosol amounts around the world based on observations from the MODIS sensor on NASA's Terra satellite. Satellite measurements of aerosols, called aerosol optical thickness, are based on the fact that the particles change the way the atmosphere reflects and absorbs visible and infrared light. An optical thickness of less than 0.1 (palest yellow) indicates a crystal clear sky with maximum visibility, whereas a value of 1 (reddish brown) indicates very hazy conditions.
The chlorophyll maps show milligrams of chlorophyll per cubic meter of seawater each month. Places where chlorophyll amounts were very low, indicating very low numbers of phytoplankton are blue. Places where chlorophyll concentrations were high, meaning many phytoplankton were growing, are dark green. The observations come from the MODIS sensor on NASA's Aqua satellite. Land is dark gray, and places where MODIS could not collect data (reasons include sea ice, polar darkness, or clouds) are light gray.
View, download, or analyze more of these data from NASA Earth Observations (NEO):
Aerosol Optical Depth