Date: Sun, 16.05.21 13:00
MODIS Pic of the Day 16 May 2021
A swirling halo of blue surrounded the coastline of northwestern and
northern Australia in mid-May 2021. This gorgeous true-color image was
acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)
on board NASA’s Aqua satellite on May 13.
The rugged landscape of Australia’s northern section of Northern
Territory makes up roughly the eastern two-thirds of the image, while
the northern tip of Western Australia sits in the west. Both regions
are colored in bold rust tones, tans, and washed with green. In
contrast to the rich Earth-tones found inland, stunning shades of blue,
turquoise, greens, and tan hug the shoreline. These jewel-toned colors
swept into the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean by strong currents
found just offshore.
Some of the coastal color comes from sediment, such as the muddy-brown
stain in the King Sound, which is found along the southwestern
coastline of Western Australian in this image. The dirt-colored smudge
in the water is caused by mud stirred up by the strong tides in shallow
Sound. It is also from sediment carried into the Sound by the Fitzroy,
one of Australia’s largest rivers.
When sediment floats near the surface, it appears mud-colored; however,
as it sinks the reflective properties change, so sunken sediment
appears green or blue from space. This change in color can be seen in
King Sound, both at the edge of the sediment plume where the color
changes from tan to green and further from shore, where the water of
the Sound takes on a turquoise tint.
While some of the color surrounding the Australian coast may come from
sediment, most of the shining stain most likely comes from large blooms
of phytoplankton. These floating, microscopic, plant-like organisms
carry pigment that, when massed together in large “blooms”, can easily
be seen from space. For the most part, phytoplankton float near the
surface of the ocean and float wherever currents take them. Because of
this, phytoplankton can sometimes be used to reveal the flow of
currents in the ocean.
Date Acquired: 5/13/2021
Resolutions: 1km (471 KB), 500m (1.2 MB), 250m (679.4 KB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC
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