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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Iceland Is Blooming

Iceland Is Blooming

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, July 15, 2019/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, marine life, sustainability, environment, adventure , climate change

                  Phytoplankton Blooms, Iceland 7-6-2019 (credit: NASA Aqua Earth-observing Program)

The Earth-observing Aqua and Landsat-8 programs have captured images of Iceland in bloom. However, in this case the remote sensing images are not of hillside flowers but of marine phytoplankton swirling around the sub-Arctic island.

According to NASA, July has offered the latest display of an algal bloom that occurs in the North Atlantic Ocean each year. The blooms outline the daily patterns of flowing surface water so every satellite image is different. Phytoplankton ecologist and NASA investigator, Michael Behrenfeld at Oregon State University said: “The structure of the bloom clearly shows the influence of ocean circulation on their distribution and concentration."

 

                        Phytoplankton Bloom, Iceland 7-7-2019 (credit: NASA Landsat-8)

Phytoplankton are marine micro-algae containing chlorophyll requiring sunlight for growth. The algae are the beginning for all aquatic food chains, produce upwards of 70% of the Earth's oxygen, and are essential to ocean health. Diatoms are a major component of algal blooms. The microscopic algae have silica shells containing the plant's green chlorophyll. They are one of the most common types of ocean phytoplankton. A bloom is essentially an abundance of phytoplankton cycling carbon dioxide out of the air and water into plant tissue.They are often called the most important organism on Earth. In Iceland algal blooms support the island's famously productive marine fisheries.

Phytoplankton blooms are important to food chains but can also create marine "dead zones" if over-fertilized by plant nutrients of agro-chemicals' running off of agricultural fields. Dead zones lack oxygen causing major damage to fisheries and marine life. The Iceland blooms are the beneficial kind.

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