Stunning View of a Phytoplankton Bloom From Space
by Phil Plait
This shot of a bloom in the southern Atlantic Ocean was taken by the ESA’s Envirosat, which — duh — is designed to observe our environment. In this case, scientists keep a keen eye on phytoplankton blooms: while this bloom is breathtaking and gorgeous, many can be hazardous. Besides producing toxins that can harm sea life, they can also consume more oxygen in the water than usual, which is obviously tough on any life in the area. The color of the bloom can be found quickly using satellite imagery like this, and the algae species determined. Also, phytoplankton are sensitive to some climate changes, so observing them can act as a “canary in the coal mine” for climate change.
Sometimes, the best view of the Earth around us is from above. And sometimes that view is amazing, but a reminder that our ecosystem is a dynamic balance… and it’s best that we understand all the forces that can upset that equilibrium.
(via: Bad Astronomy - Discover Magazine) (image: ESA)