Phytoplankton Factory Argentine Sea Annotated

January 5, 2021

In spring and summer season, conditions are frequently just right for populations of the plant-like organisms explode into massive blossoms.

The Goldilocks zone typically refers to the habitable location around a star where conditions are right for the existence of liquid water and possibly life.

In late 2020, satellite images began to show the vibrant signature of phytoplankton blossoms off the coast of Argentina and around the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). Vivid greens and blues still swirled in the sea on January 5, 2021, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA‘s Terra satellite got this natural-color image (above).

The Functional Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired the image listed below on January 2, 2021.

Phytoplankton Grande Bay Annotated

January 2, 2021

Rivers like the Santa Cruz bring nutrients from the land and provide them to the ocean, promoting phytoplankton growth.

But phytoplankton flowers are likewise stimulated by the ocean’s complex blood circulation patterns and abundant fronts– where different water masses (with unique temperature levels, saltiness, and nutrients) meet. At the Brazil-Malvinas Confluence, for example, warm, saltier tropical waters flow south and satisfy the cooler, fresher waters streaming north from the Southern Ocean. Along a front, the rising of a less-dense water mass can bring nutrients as much as the surface, where phytoplankton also have ample sunlight to fuel their growth.

Without a physical sample, it’s not possible to state for sure which type of phytoplankton exist in these images. Scientists found dinoflagellates ( Prorocentrum minimum) while collecting samples during an extreme blossom in spring 2005; diatoms ( Chaetocceros debilis) dominated a blossom in early summer season2003 Both phytoplankton groups tend to appear various tones of green in satellite images. In December 2008, researchers likewise discovered a dense blossom of coccolithophores ( Emiliania huxleyi), which tend to turn the ocean a chalky green-blue.

Notice the color gradients across the images. Brilliant green locations might be a mix of dinoflagellates, diatoms, and coccolithophores; in the bluer areas, coccolithophores most likely control. Coccolithophores can continue to grow in waters where iron has been depleted, whereas diatoms need both silicate and iron.

Whichever types were flowering, their abundance shows the biological richness along Patagonia’s continental rack, which is the site of some of the world’s richest fisheries.

NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, utilizing Landsat information from the U.S. Geological Study and utilizing MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE and GIBS/Worldview. Story by Kathryn Hansen, with image analysis from Barney Balch (Bigelow Lab for Ocean Sciences), Ana Dogliotti (Institute for Astronomy and Space Physics-CONICET/UBA), and Vivian Lutz (CONICET/INIDEP).


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