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What color is the ocean and what does it mean for life on Earth?
A Summer STEM Teacher Workshop at NASA, Greenbelt, MD.
For the past 20 years, NASA satellites have been measuring the visible light spectrum of the ocean’s surface to detect chlorophyll, a green pigment in phytoplankton. Combining satellite measurements with those collected at sea, we observe changes in these microscopic algae that form the base of the marine food web and about half of Earth’s oxygen. Changes in ocean color due to large perturbations such as El Niño and impacts to fisheries and water quality will be discussed and demonstrated through on-line analysis of satellite imagery using NASA Earth Observations. A hands-on spectrophotometer activity will also be demonstrated. Questions remain about different kinds of phytoplankton and how their distributions are changing in modelling and sea-based measurements, and what we hope to learn with the new Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean, Ecosystem (PACE) mission, planned for launch in 2022.
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