Jewel-toned waters glimmered off the coast of Argentina in early February 2010 as a phytoplankton bloom colored the Atlantic Ocean’s waters blue-green. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image on February 9, 2010. Roughly mimicking the shape of the shoreline to the west (perhaps following the continental shelf), the phytoplankton bloom forms a semicircle.
Tiny, plant-like marine organisms, phytoplankton often thrive in nutrient-rich waters, and this bloom might owe its existence to multiple factors. The sea floor drops dramatically off the east coast of South America, and water welling up from lower depths can bring nutrients that feed phytoplankton. In addition, dust storms, such as the one that occurred in late January 2010, can also deposit iron and other nutrients into the ocean.
NASA image image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.