Nick. Seattle-ish. Blogging via hand-me-down iPhone lacking phone functionality. Living in slightly less squalor than before. A few fandoms with an emphasis on Tolkien. An occasionally dark and/or unorthodox sense of humor. A few video games. Science. Literature. Music. Art. Creativity. History. Education. Equality. Body positivity. Finland. Aspirations of traveling the world. Aspirations of changing the world. The motivation and wherewithal for neither. Stuff I find interesting. Stuff I like researching. Ensuing chaos.
Don't be a stranger~


Phytoplankton Bloom off the Pacific Northwest
In the early afternoon on July 26, 2014, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’sAqua satellite acquired this natural-color view of a massive bloom of phytoplankton off the coast of Oregon and Washington. The floating, plant-like organisms give the water a milky green color in satellite imagery.
Marine phytoplankton require just the right amount of sunlight, dissolved nutrients, and moderate water temperatures—not too hot, not too cold—to make their populations explode into blooms that cover hundreds of square kilometers of the sea. In the Pacific Northwest of North America in the summer, warming land temperatures create favorable winds that blow offshore and push surface waters away from the coast. This causes cooler, nutrient-rich waters to well up from the depths and provide the right conditions for blooms. The phytoplankton can become a rich food source for zooplankton, fish, and other marine species; however, some species can also deplete the water of oxygen and become toxic to marine life.
“Blooms of this type are common during the summer due to the coastal upwelling process,” said Bill Peterson of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, whose team samples the waters off Oregon every two weeks. “What is uncommon is the ability to see so much of the coast in a single image because fog and low-elevation clouds often obscure large-scale views.”
According to Peterson, water samples taken from ships on July 22, 2014, were dominated by diatoms—Dactyliosolen fragilissima, Lepotocylindricus sp, and three species of Thalassiosira—species that “occur commonly in the upwelling zone of the northern California Current.” Researchers counted one million to three million cells per liter of water.
Angelicque White, a marine biologist at Oregon State University, noted that satellites measure sea surface temperatures and fluorescence, a proxy for the amount of sunlight-harvesting chlorophyll in phytoplankton. These data allow researchers to detect upwelling events and blooms and study them over time. White’s group maintains a web site showing these data for the northwest coast.
Note how the abundance of phytoplankton appears to be reduced in the area just offshore from the Columbia River. It is possible that the outflow affected the amount of upwelling and mixing, or it changed the salinity, temperature, or other water properties nearby. As the river enters the ocean, it generates a freshwater plume that mixes with the surrounding seawater, diluting it and the phytoplankton contained within.

Related Reading

Department of Ecology, State of Washington Marine Algae Blooms. Accessed July 30, 2014.
NASA Earth Observatory (2010, July 13) What Are Phytoplankton?
NASA Earth Observatory (2014, July) Global Maps: Chlorophyll
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.
Instrument(s): Aqua - MODIS

Phytoplankton Bloom off the Pacific Northwest

In the early afternoon on July 26, 2014, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’sAqua satellite acquired this natural-color view of a massive bloom of phytoplankton off the coast of Oregon and Washington. The floating, plant-like organisms give the water a milky green color in satellite imagery.

Marine phytoplankton require just the right amount of sunlight, dissolved nutrients, and moderate water temperatures—not too hot, not too cold—to make their populations explode into blooms that cover hundreds of square kilometers of the sea. In the Pacific Northwest of North America in the summer, warming land temperatures create favorable winds that blow offshore and push surface waters away from the coast. This causes cooler, nutrient-rich waters to well up from the depths and provide the right conditions for blooms. The phytoplankton can become a rich food source for zooplankton, fish, and other marine species; however, some species can also deplete the water of oxygen and become toxic to marine life.

“Blooms of this type are common during the summer due to the coastal upwelling process,” said Bill Peterson of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, whose team samples the waters off Oregon every two weeks. “What is uncommon is the ability to see so much of the coast in a single image because fog and low-elevation clouds often obscure large-scale views.”

According to Peterson, water samples taken from ships on July 22, 2014, were dominated by diatoms—Dactyliosolen fragilissima, Lepotocylindricus sp, and three species of Thalassiosira—species that “occur commonly in the upwelling zone of the northern California Current.” Researchers counted one million to three million cells per liter of water.

Angelicque White, a marine biologist at Oregon State University, noted that satellites measure sea surface temperatures and fluorescence, a proxy for the amount of sunlight-harvesting chlorophyll in phytoplankton. These data allow researchers to detect upwelling events and blooms and study them over time. White’s group maintains a web site showing these data for the northwest coast.

Note how the abundance of phytoplankton appears to be reduced in the area just offshore from the Columbia River. It is possible that the outflow affected the amount of upwelling and mixing, or it changed the salinity, temperature, or other water properties nearby. As the river enters the ocean, it generates a freshwater plume that mixes with the surrounding seawater, diluting it and the phytoplankton contained within.

  1. Related Reading

  2. Department of Ecology, State of Washington Marine Algae Blooms. Accessed July 30, 2014.
  3. NASA Earth Observatory (2010, July 13) What Are Phytoplankton?
  4. NASA Earth Observatory (2014, July) Global Maps: Chlorophyll

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.

Instrument(s): Aqua - MODIS

"This book gives me more information about penguins than I care to have."

In 1944 a children’s book club sent a volume about penguins to a 10-year-old girl, enclosing a card seeking her opinion.

She wrote, “This book gives me more information about penguins than I care to have.”

American diplomat Hugh Gibson called it the finest piece of literary criticism he had ever read.

(via siftingflour)