The image shows a small portion of the Gulf Stream in the infrared. The Gulf Stream is like a warm river in the ocean, but, as the image above shows, it’s not uniformly warm. Instead, water temperatures in the Gulf Stream range from 64° to 70.25° Fahrenheit (18° to 21.25° Celsius). The image – which is from an infrared sensor on the Landsat 8 satellite – shows cooler temperatures in purple and the warmest nearly white.
The bright area in the lower right of the image above is likely caused by sunglint, NASA says. It’s probably the reflection of sunlight directly back from the sea surface at Landsat 8’s infrared sensor.
The Gulf Stream carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico along the U.S. east coast, then across the Atlantic, and finally as far as Ireland and Great Britain.
The image above is centered at 33.06° North latitude, 73.86° West longitude, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) east of Charleston, South Carolina.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded 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.