On July 6, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite acquired this image of a phytoplankton bloom in the Barents Sea.
The chlorophyll contained in phytoplankton often shows up in natural-color images as a green hue in the ocean’s surface waters. The phytoplankton in this image, however, are very reflective; the milky color suggests that this bloom might contain coccolithophores—microscopic plankton that are plated with white calcium carbonate. Coccolithophores tend to bloom in the Barents Sea from July through September, when this shallow northern sea is typically ice-free. Other colors in the scene may come from sediment or other species of phytoplankton.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz and Joshua Stevens, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Caption by Kathryn Hansen.