The June solstice is approaching, and days are nearly at their longest in the Northern Hemisphere. In the northern oceans of Earth, phytoplankton – free-floating microscopic, plant-like organisms at the bottom of the ocean food web – are responding to the increase in light. NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite acquired the natural-color image above of a large phytoplankton bloom in the North Sea, east of the Shetland Islands, on June 12, 2016. NASA explained:
Spring blooms are common here, and also in areas of the North Atlantic west of this image. That’s where scientists with the North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) set out earlier this spring to study the largest bloom on the planet.
In large numbers, these tiny organisms are important for the marine food chain and also play a role in local and global climate.
Bottom line: Image of phytoplankton bloom in the North Sea, acquired by satellite June 12, 2016.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.