eARTh: The North Atlantic Ocean comes alive in beautiful blue and green swirls of painterly phytoplankton

Billions of tiny plant-like organisms have painted the seas in a swirling pattern reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting, The Starry Night.

It’s part of an annual event — a bloom of phytoplankton that spreads north in the Atlantic Ocean, peaking in late spring. On June 3, the clouds parted just enough south of Iceland to reveal part of this year’s bloom to NASA’s Terra satellite.

Using photosynthesis to capture solar energy, phytoplankton form the basis of marine food webs.

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