"This image taken from the Suomi NPP satellite’s VIIRS instrument of New Zealand was collected on January 9, 2015 when the phytoplankton were blooming — particularly to the east of the islands and along the Chatham Rise.
Derived from the Greek words phyto (plant) and plankton (made to wander or drift), phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that live in watery environments, both salty and fresh.
Phytoplankton growth depends on the availability of carbon dioxide, sunlight, and nutrients. Phytoplankton, like land plants, require nutrients such as nitrate, phosphate, silicate, and calcium at various levels depending on the species. Some phytoplankton can fix nitrogen and can grow in areas where nitrate concentrations are low. They also require trace amounts of iron which limits phytoplankton growth in large areas of the ocean because iron concentrations are very low. Other factors influence phytoplankton growth rates, including water temperature and salinity, water depth, wind, and what kinds of predators are grazing on them.
When conditions are right, phytoplankton populations can grow explosively, a phenomenon known as a bloom. Blooms in the ocean may cover hundreds of square kilometers and are easily visible in satellite images. A bloom may last several weeks, but the life span of any individual phytoplankton is rarely more than a few days.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/NPP #nasagoddard #NewZealand” By nasagoddard on Instagram.
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