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Phytoplankton Bloom off Argentina
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Phytoplankton Bloom off Argentina

April 26, 2013
Many factors combine to make the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Argentina a highly productive ecosystem. In this region, cool, nutrient-rich water from the Antarctic mixes with warm, salty water flowing south from Brazil. The water is turbid where the two currents meet, and the churning waters bring additional nutrients to the surface. Yet another source of nutrients is the Rio de la Plata, the wide estuary through which the Paranánd Uruguay Rivers empty into the ocean. Brown clouds of iron-rich sediment from the Rio de la Plata are visible along the top edge of the image. The infusion of fresh water from the rivers also carries agricultural run-off and other nutrients into the ocean. Between the upwelling created by the converging currents and the flow of nutrients from the Rio de la Plata, the waters of the Atlantic are a paradise for marine life ranging from fish to microscopic surface plants. The brilliant swirls of green and blue shown in this image attest to the productivity of the South Atlantic Ocean off Argentina. The colors have been created by millions of tiny plants growing on the surface of the water. Chlorophyll in the plants gives the water its green color, while their white calcium carbonate (chalk) scales reflect light through the top layer of the ocean, giving it a bright blue color. The tiny plants, phytoplankton, are the base of the marine food chain. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image on March 5, 2006. Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC


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