Phytoplankton bloom in the Black Sea

Phytoplankton bloom in the Black Sea

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Phytoplankton bloom in the Black Sea
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Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video
An intense bloom of phytoplankton continued in the Black Sea in early June, 2012, staining nearly every corner of the 436,400 km2 (168,500 sq. mi) Sea with a rich palette of teal, turquoise, green and milky blue. The Sea of Azov, to the northeast was also filled with swirls of color, including a touch of tan which may indicate not only phytoplankton, but sediment also circulates in those waters.

The bloom of phytoplankton in this region is an annual occurrence, and the extent and intensity of the bloom is affected by the level of nutrient washing into the Sea, the mixing of layers of water and the temperature of the waters, as well as other factors.

Such Black Sea blooms occur most often in the summertime, but news sources such as RIA Novosti have reported that this bloom, which was well underway by mid-May, began two weeks earlier than expected this year. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite acquired this true-color image on June 3, 2012.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team

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Clouds over the Sahara Desert
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Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video
Although rain rarely falls in the extremely arid Sahara Desert, the skies are not always sunny. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this spectacular image of clouds across southern Algeria at 10:35 UTC (11:35 a.m. local time) on February 12, 2012.

The annual precipitation in the Sahara Desert is less than 25 millimeters (0.9 inches), and in the eastern part of the desert total precipitation may be less than 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) each year. Precipitation, although rare, can fall in any season, and February tends to be the rainiest season in the Sahara.

More common than rainfall, fog sometimes forms over the desert, especially when warm, relatively moist air crosses a cooler, arid landmass. Although temperatures in the Sahara in the daytime can be quite hot, even in winter, temperatures often plunge in the evening. Under these conditions, fog or low stratus clouds can form. From space, such low clouds can look like a thin, white sheet covering a swath of land.

On the date this image was captured, Tropical Cyclone Giovanni swirled off the coast of Mozambique, to the southeast, and the strong storm was pushing warm, moist air northwestward. Meanwhile, to the northwest of the Sahara, a Siberian anticyclone was bringing bitter cold air to Europe and causing snow to fall in northwestern Algeria. The town of Tebessa, just to the north of this image, reported light snowfall beginning at 3:00 a.m. on February 12.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team

NASA image use policy.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

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Arctic Sea Ice Hits Smallest Extent In Satellite Era
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Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video
Satellite data reveal how the new record low Arctic sea ice extent, from Sept. 16, 2012, compares to the average minimum extent over the past 30 years (in yellow). Sea ice extent maps are derived from data captured by the Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer aboard NASA’s Nimbus-7 satellite and the Special Sensor Microwave Imager on multiple satellites from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio

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The frozen cap of the Arctic Ocean appears to have reached its annual summertime minimum extent and broken a new record low on Sept. 16, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has reported. Analysis of satellite data by NASA and the NASA-supported NSIDC at the University of Colorado in Boulder showed that the sea ice extent shrunk to 1.32 million square miles (3.41 million square kilometers).

The new record minimum measures almost 300,000 square miles less than the previous lowest extent in the satellite record, set in mid-September 2007, of 1.61 million square miles (4.17 million square kilometers). For comparison, the state of Texas measures around 268,600 square miles.

NSIDC cautioned that, although Sept. 16 seems to be the annual minimum, there’s still time for winds to change and compact the ice floes, potentially reducing the sea ice extent further. NASA and NSIDC will release a complete analysis of the 2012 melt season next month, once all data for September are available. To read more go to: www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012-seaicemin.html

NASA image use policy.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

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