Barents Sea in bloom

Phytoplankton bloom in the Barents Sea. (Photo: Jeff Schmaltz MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC)

A NASA satellite has sent down an image of a phytoplankton bloom stretching across the Barents Sea. While it is a common occurrence for the area during August, it is rare to get such a spectacular view.


Photos of the phytoplankton bloom in the Barents Sea have been “photo of the day” on NASA’s MODIS web site twice in less than a week. The clear views of this event that have been captured recently are particularly remarkable, because the Barents Sea carries a cloud cover roughly 80% of the summer.

In the northern Barents Sea, these organisms are starved for sunlight much of the year, but during the summer months, they explode in colorful blooms such as this one.

Because phytoplankton are the base of the marine food chain, places were blooms are large and frequent often support a thriving marine population. This is certainly the case in the Barents Sea where the fisheries, particularly the cod fisheries, are of great importance for both Norway and Russia.