Southern France

These true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images acquired by the Terra and Aqua satellites show southern France in late fall 2002. At lower left the rugged Pyrenees Mountains, which separate France from Spain, are barely snow-covered in the early part of the series, but become blanketed in white by mid-December. Right of image center, the Alps separate France from Italy. At upper left is the Bay of Biscay. At lower right is the Mediterranean Sea.
Source: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Phytoplankton bloom in the Bay of Biscay

A large phytoplankton bloom in Frances Bay of Biscay brought bright swirls of light blue and turquoise to the surface across much of the bay. Careful inspection of this true-color scene reveals there are likely a variety of species of phytoplankton blooming in the bay. Notice the dark green hues near shore along Frances western coastline, possibly due to the green pigment chlorophyll, which phytoplankton use for photosynthesis (just like their land-based cousins). The green tint could also be sediment emptying into the bay in the regions rivers. This is likely as the green patterns near the shore correspond to the mouths of rivers. The sediment is tan in high concentrations, then appears blue and green as it becomes diluted. In contrast, the much brighter, light blue swirls suggest the presence of coccolithophores, a species of phytoplankton that produce a calcite (basically limestone) shell around themselves somewhat resembling a hubcap. While each individual coccolithophore shell is tiny—only about three one-thousandths of a millimeter in diameter—a large bloom such as this can contain trillions of the organisms, giving the ocean an almost milky appearance at the surface. Coccolithophores are not hazardous to their environment, and it is not at all unusual to see such a bloom in the Bay of Biscay this time of year. In addition to the role these organisms play in the marine food chain, scientists are interested in tracking coccolithophore blooms as indicators of the physical state of the ocean and how the ocean may be changing in response to shifting weather patterns and longer-term climate change. Moreover, scientists are working to revise their estimates of the “productivity” of these organisms on a global scale; i.e., how much carbon do they absorb during photosynthesis and how much calcite do they manufacture in their shells as a result? Currently, scientists estimate that coccolithophores produce more than 1.5 million tons (1.4 billion kilograms) of calcite per year, making them the oceans leading producer. This image was acquired on May 16, 2004, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), aboard NASAs Aqua satellite. A large phytoplankton bloom in Frances Bay of Biscay brought bright swirls of light blue and turquoise to the surface across much of the bay. Careful inspection of this true-color scene reveals there are likely a variety of species of phytoplankton blooming in the bay. Notice the dark green hues near shore along Frances western coastline, possibly due to the green pigment chlorophyll, which phytoplankton use for photosynthesis (just like their land-based cousins). The green tint could also be sediment emptying into the bay in the regions rivers. This is likely as the green patterns near the shore correspond to the mouths of rivers. The sediment is tan in high concentrations, then appears blue and green as it becomes diluted. In contrast, the much brighter, light blue swirls suggest the presence of coccolithophores, a species of phytoplankton that produce a calcite (basically limestone) shell around themselves somewhat resembling a hubcap. While each individual coccolithophore shell is tiny—only about three one-thousandths of a millimeter in diameter—a large bloom such as this can contain trillions of the organisms, giving the ocean an almost milky appearance at the surface. Coccolithophores are not hazardous to their environment, and it is not at all unusual to see such a bloom in the Bay of Biscay this time of year. In addition to the role these organisms play in the marine food chain, scientists are interested in tracking coccolithophore blooms as indicators of the physical state of the ocean and how the ocean may be changing in response to shifting weather patterns and longer-term climate change. Moreover, scientists are working to revise their estimates of the “productivity” of these organisms on a global scale; i.e., how much carbon do they absorb during photosynthesis and how much calcite do they manufacture in their shells as a result? Currently, scientists estimate that coccolithophores produce more than 1.5 million tons (1.4 billion kilograms) of calcite per year, making them the oceans leading producer. This image was acquired on May 16, 2004, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), aboard NASAs Aqua satellite.
Source: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Phytoplankton bloom in the Bay of Biscay

A large phytoplankton bloom in Frances Bay of Biscay brought bright swirls of light blue and turquoise to the surface across much of the bay. Careful inspection of this true-color scene reveals there are likely a variety of species of phytoplankton blooming in the bay. Notice the dark green hues near shore along Frances western coastline, possibly due to the green pigment chlorophyll, which phytoplankton use for photosynthesis (just like their land-based cousins). The green tint could also be sediment emptying into the bay in the regions rivers. This is likely as the green patterns near the shore correspond to the mouths of rivers. The sediment is tan in high concentrations, then appears blue and green as it becomes diluted. In contrast, the much brighter, light blue swirls suggest the presence of coccolithophores, a species of phytoplankton that produce a calcite (basically limestone) shell around themselves somewhat resembling a hubcap. While each individual coccolithophore shell is tiny—only about three one-thousandths of a millimeter in diameter—a large bloom such as this can contain trillions of the organisms, giving the ocean an almost milky appearance at the surface. Coccolithophores are not hazardous to their environment, and it is not at all unusual to see such a bloom in the Bay of Biscay this time of year. In addition to the role these organisms play in the marine food chain, scientists are interested in tracking coccolithophore blooms as indicators of the physical state of the ocean and how the ocean may be changing in response to shifting weather patterns and longer-term climate change. Moreover, scientists are working to revise their estimates of the “productivity” of these organisms on a global scale; i.e., how much carbon do they absorb during photosynthesis and how much calcite do they manufacture in their shells as a result? Currently, scientists estimate that coccolithophores produce more than 1.5 million tons (1.4 billion kilograms) of calcite per year, making them the oceans leading producer. This image was acquired on May 17, 2004, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), aboard NASAs Aqua satellite.
Source: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Phytoplankton bloom off the coast of Brittany, France

This true-color MODIS image shows a phytoplankton bloom, indicated by the blue-green swirls, off the coast of Brittany, France. At the top of the image is the southern edge of England, and to its south is the English Channel.
Source: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team

Southern France (before floods)

These Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images show the extent of flooding along the southern reaches of the Rhone River in France. Almost constant rain has fallen over the region since early October. Then, torrential rains began on December 1, 2003, pushing the Rhone River to its highest ever recorded volume. Thousands of people fled their homes as the flood waters rose. This is the eighth time the river has flooded in the past eleven years. The MODIS image captured by the Terra satellite on December 7 shows pools of standing water, dark blue in the false-color image and tan in the true-color image, around the Rhone River delta. The river itself is swollen compared to an image taken on October 6, 2003, before the rains started. Sediment carried by the floods is tinting the Mediterranean Sea bright blue in the false color image and murky tan and green in the true-color image.
Source: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Southern France (before floods, false color)

These Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images show the extent of flooding along the southern reaches of the Rhone River in France. Almost constant rain has fallen over the region since early October. Then, torrential rains began on December 1, 2003, pushing the Rhone River to its highest ever recorded volume. Thousands of people fled their homes as the flood waters rose. This is the eighth time the river has flooded in the past eleven years. The MODIS image captured by the Terra satellite on December 7 shows pools of standing water, dark blue in the false-color image and tan in the true-color image, around the Rhone River delta. The river itself is swollen compared to an image taken on October 6, 2003, before the rains started. Sediment carried by the floods is tinting the Mediterranean Sea bright blue in the false color image and murky tan and green in the true-color image.
Source: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Floods in Southern France

These Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images show the extent of flooding along the southern reaches of the Rhone River in France. Almost constant rain has fallen over the region since early October. Then, torrential rains began on December 1, 2003, pushing the Rhone River to its highest ever recorded volume. Thousands of people fled their homes as the flood waters rose. This is the eighth time the river has flooded in the past eleven years. The MODIS image captured by the Terra satellite on December 7 shows pools of standing water, dark blue in the false-color image and tan in the true-color image, around the Rhone River delta. The river itself is swollen compared to an image taken on October 6, 2003, before the rains started. Sediment carried by the floods is tinting the Mediterranean Sea bright blue in the false color image and murky tan and green in the true-color image.
Source: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Floods in Southern France

These Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images show the extent of flooding along the southern reaches of the Rhone River in France. Almost constant rain has fallen over the region since early October. Then, torrential rains began on December 1, 2003, pushing the Rhone River to its highest ever recorded volume. Thousands of people fled their homes as the flood waters rose. This is the eighth time the river has flooded in the past eleven years. The MODIS image captured by the Terra satellite on December 7 shows pools of standing water, dark blue in the false-color image and tan in the true-color image, around the Rhone River delta. The river itself is swollen compared to an image taken on October 6, 2003, before the rains started. Sediment carried by the floods is tinting the Mediterranean Sea bright blue in the false color image and murky tan and green in the true-color image.
Source: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Airplane condensation trails (contrails) across the English Channel

Numerous airplane contrails crisscross the English Channel, providing visual proof of how common air travel is. Contrails form when hot, humid jet exhaust is expelled into the cold air at high altitudes, typically more than 8 kilometers (5 miles), above the ground. The exhaust freezes directly into ice crystals, forming thin streaks along the path of the jet. The resulting condensation trails only last a few hours, as can be seen in this Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image pair. Many of the contrails that were visible in the morning overpass have faded in the afternoon overpass. This image pair, acquired on December 9, 2003, by the Aqua and the Terra satellites, also shows the increase in air traffic during the day. Many more contrails are visible in the afternoon compared to the morning.
Source: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Airplane condensation trails (contrails) across the English Channel

Numerous airplane contrails crisscross the English Channel, providing visual proof of how common air travel is. Contrails form when hot, humid jet exhaust is expelled into the cold air at high altitudes, typically more than 8 kilometers (5 miles), above the ground. The exhaust freezes directly into ice crystals, forming thin streaks along the path of the jet. The resulting condensation trails only last a few hours, as can be seen in this Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image pair. Many of the contrails that were visible in the morning overpass have faded in the afternoon overpass. This image pair, acquired on December 9, 2003, by the Aqua and the Terra satellites, also shows the increase in air traffic during the day. Many more contrails are visible in the afternoon compared to the morning.
Source: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC