SeaWiFS Biosphere from 1997 to 2006

The SeaWiFS instrument aboard the Seastar satellite has been collecting ocean data since 1997. By monitoring the color of reflected light via satellite, scientists can determine how successfully plant life is photosynthesizing. A measurement of photosynthesis is essentially a measurement of successful growth, and growth means successful use of ambient carbon. This animation represents nearly a decade's worth of data taken by the SeaWiFS instrument, showing the abundance of life in the sea. Dark blue represents warmer areas where there is little life due to lack of nutrients, and greens and reds represent cooler nutrient-rich areas. The nutrient-rich areas include coastal regions where cold water rises from the sea floor bringing nutrients along and areas at the mouths of rivers where the rivers have brought nutrients into the ocean from the land. A recent study indicates there is a correlation between this ocean nutrients and changes in sea surface temperature (SST). The results show that when SSTs warm, marine plant life in the form of microscopic phytoplankton declines. When SSTs cool, marine plant life flourishes. Changes in phytoplankton growth influence fishery yields and the amount of carbon dioxide the oceans remove from the atmosphere. This could have major implications on the future of our ocean's food web and how it relates to climate change. Once the animation pulls out to a full global view, the remaining animation can be compared to the 'MODIS Sea Surface Temperature from 2002 to 2006' animation.

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Visualization Credits

Alex Kekesi (GST): Lead Animator
Stuart A. Snodgrass (GST): Animator
Lori Perkins (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Gene Feldman (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, The SeaWiFS Project and GeoEye, Scientific Visualization Studio. NOTE: All SeaWiFS images and data presented on this web site are for research and educational use only. All commercial use of SeaWiFS data must be coordinated with GeoEye ( Data provided by: Norman Kuring (NASA/GSFC)

Science Paper:
'Climate-Driven Trends in Contemporary Ocean Productivity', Nature, Dec. 7

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Data Used:
SeaStar/SeaWiFS/Global Biosphere 08/29/1997 - 10/23/2006

Dates of Data Used:
08/29/1997 - 10/23/2006

This item is part of this series:
Ocean Productivity

Goddard TV Tape:
G2007-001HD -- NASA's HD Climate Change Resource Tape

DLESE >> Biology
DLESE >> Ecology
DLESE >> Physical oceanography
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Biosphere
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Climate Indicators
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Biosphere >> Ecological Dynamics >> Food-web Dynamics
NASA Science >> Earth

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version