Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Earth's dust and plankton from space: New views from Envisat satellite

Date:
April 17, 2011
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
Europe's Envisat satellite has captured a new view of dust and sand from the Algerian Sahara Desert, located in northern Africa, blowing west across the Atlantic Ocean.

Although some types of plankton are individually microscopic, the chlorophyll they use for photosynthesis collectively tints the colour of the surrounding ocean waters. This allows dedicated 'ocean colour' satellite sensors, such as Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), to detect them from space.
Credit: ESA

Europe's Envisat satellite has captured dust and sand from the Algerian Sahara Desert, located in northern Africa, blowing west across the Atlantic Ocean.
 
Stretching across the eastern Atlantic, strong winds carry the plume over the northwestern tip of the Iberian Peninsula (bottom), the western tip of France, the southwestern tip of England (top right) and the southwestern coast of Ireland (top left).

Dust from the Sahara Desert – the world’s largest desert, encompassing around 8.6 million sq km – can be transported over thousands of kilometres by atmospheric convection currents. These convection currents form when warm, lighter air rises and cold, heavier air sinks.

Sandstorms are very common over the Sahara, and large concentrations of the dust can be found in the tropical Atlantic and the Caribbean. The dust contains many nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and iron, which act as a fertiliser and stimulate the production of massive plankton blooms.

In this new image, plankton blooms are visible in the Atlantic as blue and green swirls. (The various shades of green and tan in the English Channel and around Wales are due to sediments being transported in the water.)

Plankton are microscopic marine plants that drift on or near the surface of the sea and are the basic food on which all other marine life depends. They contain chlorophyll pigments and are able to convert inorganic compounds, such as water, nitrogen and carbon, into complex organic materials.

With their ability to 'digest' these compounds, they remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as terrestrial plants. As a result, the oceans have a profound influence on climate. Since plankton influence the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, it is important to monitor and model them into calculations of future climate change.

Although some types of plankton are individually microscopic, the chlorophyll they use for photosynthesis collectively tints the colour of the surrounding ocean waters. This allows dedicated 'ocean colour' satellite sensors, such as Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), to detect them from space.

MERIS acquired this image on April 8, 2011 at a resolution of 300 m. 


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Earth's dust and plankton from space: New views from Envisat satellite." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415083327.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2011, April 17). Earth's dust and plankton from space: New views from Envisat satellite. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415083327.htm
European Space Agency. "Earth's dust and plankton from space: New views from Envisat satellite." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415083327.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) — River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) — Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) — Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

AFP (July 29, 2014) — The world's great apes face extinction within decades, renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall warned Tuesday in a call to arms to ensure man's closest relatives are not wiped out. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins