Late May 2010 brought peacock-hued swirls of blue and green to the North Atlantic. The iridescent waters formed a giant arc hundreds of kilometers across, extending from west of Ireland to the Bay of Biscay. The MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured this natural-color image on May 22, 2010. The vibrant colors are from tiny organisms, phytoplankton, that grow explosively in the North Atlantic in the spring and summer.
Phytoplankton require nutrients to reproduce, and phytoplankton blooms are often tied to events that bring nutrients to the ocean surface, such as dust plumes. Volcanic ash can also contribute nutrients for phytoplankton blooms.
MODIS acquired this image after weeks of eruptive activity at Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull Volcano. One might wonder whether ash provided fertilizer for this bloom. In this case, the answer is probably no. The North Atlantic Ocean already contains plenty of iron, and these waters experience massive phytoplankton blooms every spring and summer.
Click on image to enlarge.