Brilliant shades of blue and green explode across the Barents Sea in this natural-color satellite image taken on 14 August 2011. The color was created by a massive bloom of phytoplankton that is common in the area each August. The clear view is a rare treat since the Barents Sea is cloud-covered roughly 80 percent of the time in summer. Plankton blooms spanning hundreds or even thousands of kilometers occur across the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans every year. Many species thrive in the cooler ocean waters, which tend to be richer in nutrients and plant life than tropical waters.
The area in this image is located immediately north of the Scandinavian peninsula. The region is a junction where several ocean current systems – including the Norwegian Atlantic, the Persey, and east Spitsbergen currents – merge and form a front known as the North Cape Current. The intersecting waters, plus stiff winds, promote mixing of waters and of nutrients from the deep. Image courtesy of NASA.