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Phytoplankton Bloom Near Japan

Phytoplankton Bloom Near Japan

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this remarkably cloud-free view of Honshu, Japan’s main island, on May 4, 2005. A thick plume of smoke crosses the island from the west where intense fires have been burning in North Korea. To the south, the ocean is brightly colored with phytoplankton, microscopic plants growing near the surface of the water. This phytoplankton bloom may be linked to dust, which settles in the water during springtime sand storms from China. The dust carries iron, a nutrient needed for phytoplankton growth, to the ocean and may be responsible for the profusion of life seen here. The large version of the image is at MODIS’ maximum resolution of 250 meters per pixel, but the image is also available in additional resolutions.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC