16 February 2012

It's crazy like a fool, eddy eddy cool!

NASA has a brilliant feed I subscribe to over at their Earth Observatory that provides regular updates from a couple of their imaging satellites.
The below image is courtesy of the Terra – MODIS satellite, and looks so cool that I thought I would share it with you all.
It depicts an eddy off the tip of South Africa that has stirred up a bevy of nutrients from the ocean floor, and precipitated a large phytoplankton bloom. This is the brilliant swirl of discolouration that stands out from the rest of the ocean surface.
It’s amazing to see these massive phenomena and then realise that they are caused by some of the world’s smallest plants. To get a bit of perspective, if this bloom was superimposed over Victoria, it would cover Ballarat, Geelong and most of Melbourne! Pretty impressive for something comprised of individuals, that aren’t even visible with the naked eye.
Note: this is not the plankton I am referring to here; these guys are plants, and the food of zooplankton like the Plankton pictured above
These mini plant factories are prodigious little things too, and are responsible for half of all the oxygen generated by plant life on planet earth; so we should be thankful such blooms are common occurrences.
For a bit more perspective, here is the full image from the site, showing its position off the coast of Africa, and for those of you who know your geography; it will also give an example of the scale of the thing.
Pretty awesome stuff.

P.s. I must dedicate this post to my wonderful wife, who insisted that I use the above title after I jokingly mentioned it.

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