Skip navigationGetting the global picture


1. Storms of dust and tanks

2. Big eyes upstairs

3. Eyeing melting ice

4. At the big disconnects

5. Finding fish - by satellite

6. Fire and brimstone




Both images this page from GSFC/NASA.


Follow the phytoplankton (free-floating plants) to some g-o-o-d fishin'. Much as the convergence of different air masses leads to massive energy transfers - and life-giving rain - in the atmosphere, the meeting of warm, low-nutrient water with cold, nutrient-rich water in the South Atlantic causes an intense bloom of plants. That translates into more grazing fish, and more predatory fish. It's a fishing scene made in heaven -but best seen from space. Plants are 5,000 times as dense in red zones as in the bluest of the blue.
image shows brightly shaded water east of a gray land mass. The water is represented by swirls of green and blue,
but a strong red band reaches north from the bottom and a spot of red colors the bay near Buenos Aires.
Colors indicate chlorophyll concentration.

The cold Malvinas (Falklands) current brings nutrient-rich water from the ocean depths, fertilizing the intense bloom of free-floating plants. Remind you of the double-loop circulation at the Intertropical Convergence Zone? These convergences can be seen by spaceborne instruments that detect chlorophyll, or other gadgets that see changes in sea height or waves.
Arrows show the low productivity Brazil current of warm, low nutrient water and the high productivity Malvinas current of cold, high nutrient water. Between the two is the convergence zone. There are more nutrients in higher water

Want to watch us wreck the planet?

The Why Files

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