Remarkable natural event visible from space

As summer comes to a close, wind blowing snow off the Amery Ice Shelf in East Antarctica appears to have released nutrients which, combined with sunlight, have triggered a massive algal bloom (believed to be phaeocystis).  The size of the bloom is estimated to be 200 kilometres (E-W) by 100 kilometres (N-S). Its colour is so rich that it is easily visible from space. This shot was taken from the Modis instrument on the Terra satellite, at least 650km from the Earth, in the last week of February. ACE CRC marine glaciologist Dr Jan Lieser monitors the sea ice conditions in East Antarctic using satellite data. He has been following the bloom through imagery provided by NASA since mid-February and says this is a remarkable natural event. He has never seen, by satellite, an algal bloom this size  off East Antarctica. Australia's research and resupply vessel Aurora Australis has visited the area near the bloom, so scientists can collect water samples of the algae.

Authorised by the CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre October 2019.

The ACE CRC was established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program.

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