Washington, USA, 22 May 2007: NASA’s satellites including QuikSCAT, AQUA have provided data that helped scientists solve a decades-old puzzle about how vast blooms of microscopic plants can form in the middle of otherwise barren mid-ocean regions.
A research team led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachussetts, has used the data in its work to show that episodic, swirling current systems known as eddies act to pump nutrients up from the deep ocean to fuel blooms in the mid oceanic regions.
The National Science Foundation primarily funded the work, while NASA satellite measurements helped guide shipboard sampling. Data sets came from NASA’s TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason, Aqua and QuikSCAT satellites with additional contributions from the Navy’s GEOSAT and European Space Agency’s ERS-2 satellite.
The team started with NASA satellite measurements of sea surface height to locate eddies in the Sargasso Sea, south and east of the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic.