Biosphere Data Across the United States Western Seaboard

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 and along the Western seaboard of the United States. 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. The nutrient-rich waters contribute to some of the oxygen-poor pockets of the seas called dead zones.

Visualization Credits

Alex Kekesi (GST): Lead Animator
Laura Motel (UMBC): Producer
Maria Frostic (UMBC): Producer
Gene Feldman (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio 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 (

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Data Used:
SeaStar/SeaWiFS/Global Biosphere 09/23/1997 - 9/20/2006

Dates of Data Used:
09/23/1997 - 9/20/2006

This item is part of this series:
SeaWiFS Biosphere

DLESE >> Biology
SVS >> Ocean Currents
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Biosphere
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Biosphere >> Microbiota Taxonomy >> Phytoplankton
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Biosphere >> Plant Taxonomy >> Phytoplankton
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Water Quality/Water Chemistry >> Oxygen
SVS >> Climate Change
SVS >> For Educators
SVS >> Pacific Ocean
SVS >> Oceanic Food Web
SVS >> Oceans >> Seaboard
SVS >> Oceans >> Plant Life
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