Phytoplankton bloom in Bristol Bay Alaska
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Phytoplankton bloom in Bristol Bay, Alaska

September 6, 2011
Brilliant ripples of iridescent turquoise and teal cloud the waters of Bristol Bay, Alaska in late summer, 2011. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite captured this true-color image on August 25, 2011.

Bristol Bay is shallow and the waters are stirred by strong ocean currents and inflowing rivers. Freshwater inflow decreases salinity of the by waters, as does the melting of sea ice in the warmth of summer. The combination of decreasing salinity, cold water upwelling with currents and increasing sunlight over the shallow ocean creates an ideal environment for the rapid bloom of phytoplankton.

Although this particular bloom is widespread and spectacular, such blooms are common in August and September in Bristol Bay.

Image Credits: Jeff Schmaltz MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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