NASA maintains an excellent repository of Image of the Day high resolution composites from their MODIS Aqua and Terra satellites. I ended up using some of the satellite data to create a SST plot using their SEADAS software also. I really enjoy using the satellite data and it’s been especially insightful in my later analysis to observe recurrent blooms in this region.  The image below is from Feb. 9th and reflects a well defined phytoplankton bloom along the continental shelf frontal boundary with so little cloud cover – I had to show this!  I am ever grateful for the satellite imagery, it has always pulled through just when I am looking for an exemplary illustration of the region features.

Ripples of blue and green color the south Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Argentina in this image captured by the Aqua satellite on February 9, 2010. The colors are due to the presence of phytoplankton in the water.

Phytoplankton are tiny plant-like organisms that live in the surface waters of the ocean. They grow best in cool waters, where the temperature difference between the surface and the ocean’s depths is small enough to allow nutrient-rich deep water to mix with surface waters. This is one reason why this region gets such spectacular phytoplankton blooms. There is a cold current that sweeps north from Antarctica along the coast of Argentina. Additionally, winds often drive upwelling along the continental shelf. The combination of the current and upwelling cool the South Atlantic in this region, making it possible for nutrient-rich deep water to reach the surface.



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About hawright

marine ecologist

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