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Ship Clouds above the Pacific Ocean

Credits
NASA/GSFC; Link: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov

This impressive image shows the legacies of ships in the atmosphere. The white traces of clouds have an effect on the natural clouds: Particles of exhaust gas (aerosols) increase the reflectivity of the clouds which means they can absorb more water. This leads to a reduced precipitation. Even though the use of fossil fuels of ships only accounts for a relatively small part of the changing atmosphere, this image gives an idea which impacts human actions can have on nature.

 

Location: Pacific Ocean
Picture taken on July 3, 2010
Sensor: Aqua MODIS

Harmful Algal Bloom in the Atlantic Ocean

Credits
NASA/GSFC; Link: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov

This image shows a part of the Atlantic Ocean west of Ireland, England and France in spring. The turquoise-green whirl indicates a large-scale algal bloom. Essentially, the algal bloom is a natural and seasonal phenomenon. However, in the case of a massive accumulation due to a nutrient oversupply of the water, it can be harmful. The toxic quality of the algal bloom can cause massive fish mortality and the overproduction of bio mass can result in an imbalance of ecosystems.

 

Location: Atlantic Ocean
Picture taken on May 22, 2010
Sensor: Terra MODIS

Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

Credits
NASA/GSFC; Link: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov

On April 20, 2010 the oil drilling rig “Deepwater Horizon” leased by BP exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. This accident resulted in one of the most devastating natural disasters of our time: Over months, more than several hundred millions of litres of oil streamed into the sea. As the catastrophe unfolded, the oil also reached the Mississippi Delta. There is reason to believe that a part of the spill reached the world-spanning sea currents as well and thus has been spreading globally ever since.

Smog in China

Credits
NASA, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response

Dense smog has developed in the north of China, across Beijing and Shanghai, i.e. a distance of 1200 km, equivalent to the distance between Kiel (Germany) and Florence (Italy). The smog appears as a brown to grayish area. The concentration of respirable fine particles was 480 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m³) in Beijing and 355 in Shanghai that day. The WHO limit for fine particles dangerous to health is 25 µg/m³.