Stirring up a bloom – Giclee print
NASA picture acquired December 21, 2010. -Stirring up a bloom off patagonia-The most fascinating art often arises from the convergence of different ideas and influences. And so it is with nature sometimes. Off the coast of Argentina, strong ocean currents recently stirred up a colorful brew of floating nutrients and microscopic plant life in time for the summer solstice.The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this picture of a huge phytoplankton bloom off of the Atlantic coast of Patagonia on December 21, 2010. Scientists used seven separate different spectral bands to highlight the differences in the plankton communities across this swath of ocean.This milky green and blue bloom developed on the continental shelf off of Patagonia, where warmer, saltier coastal waters and currents from the subtropics meet the colder, fresher waters flowing up from the south. Where these currents collide–known to oceanographers as a shelf-break front–turbulent eddies and swirls form, pulling nutrients up from the deep ocean. Also, the nearby Rio de la Plata runs off the land and deposits nitrogen and iron-laden sediment in to the sea north of the area shown in the picture.Add in some strong summer sun, and you have a bountiful feast for the microscopic, floating plants–phytoplankton–that form the middle of the ocean food web. Those plants become food for everything from microscopic animals (zooplankton) to fish to whales.Though it is impossible to say for definite without direct sampling of the water, most of the phytoplankton blooming in this photograph are likely coccolithophores, single-celled plants that form calcite scales. (Calcite is a carbonate mineral often present in limestone chalk.) Blooms of coccolithophores are common in those waters in southern hemisphere’s spring and summer. Diatoms might even be in the mix.NASA picture created by Norman Kuring, Ocean Color Web. Caption by Michael Carlowicz. Instrument: Aqua – MODISCredit: NASA Earth Observatory Photography by NASA Goddard Photo and Video & printed as a giclee art print by WHoArtNow in the UK.
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