Biosphere: Marine Chlorophyll Concentration

Biosphere: Marine Chlorophyll Concentration  thumbnail


The term biosphere refers to the regions of the surface, atmosphere, and hydrosphere of the earth occupied by living organisms.This dataset shows quantity of marine plant-life as it changes throughout the seasons of the year.

"The purpose of the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) Project is to provide quantitative data on global, ocean bio-optical, properties to the Earth science community. Subtle changes in ocean color signify various types and quantities of marine phytoplankton (microscopic marine plants), the knowledge of which has both scientific and practical applications." - SeaWiFS website. The SeaWiFS Project collects, processes, and distributes data received from an ocean color sensor orbiting the Earth on a satellite. The orbiting sensor can view every square kilometer of cloud-free ocean every 48 hours, providing global information on the oceans. The satellite observations can be used to derive the concentration of microscopic marine plants, phytoplankton, based on the color of the ocean.

The oceans are shaded based on the chlorophyll (green pigment in plants) concentration. Greener water signifies an abundance of phytoplankton, while bluer water indicates less. Red patches in the ocean often occur at the mouth of a major river and indicate an abundance of life caused by run-off containing higher concentrations of fertilizers and other nutrients that find their way into the water source.

Knowing where plant-life in both the ocean and on land is abundant is important to scientists because plants remove carbon from the atmosphere.The ability to continuously monitor biological activity with SeaWiFS helps scientists to understand the role of the ocean in the global carbon cycle, as well as other interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere.

This version of SeaWiFS shows the land as a still image, only the changes in the ocean through the year are seen to fluctuate.

Notable Features

  • Shading on ocean depicts concentration of chlorophyll in the oceans

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