Maps, Graphs, and Data

Energy and Matter: North Atlantic Chlorophyll (1997-2006)

North Atlantic Chlorophyll

The Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS) instrument aboard the Seastar satellite collected ocean data for more than a decade. By monitoring the color of reflected light via satellite, scientists can determine chlorophyll concentrations, indicating how successfully plant life is photosynthesizing. Ocean chlorophyll concentration is essentially a measurement of the successful growth of microscopic plants, called phytoplankton. Dark blue represents areas where phytoplankton are scarce often due to lack of nutrients. Greens and reds, on the other hand, indicate an abundance of phytoplankton, which often correlates with nutrient-rich areas. These can include coastal regions where cold water rises from the seafloor and near the mouths of rivers.

Credit: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio, The SeaWiFS Project and GeoEye. NOTE: All SeaWiFS images and data are for research and educational use only. All commercial use of SeaWiFS data must be coordinated with GeoEye (http://www.geoeye.com). Data provided by: Norman Kuring (NASA/GSFC)