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Meeresströmungen bei Hokkaido, Japan

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This image illustrates how the convergence of the Oyashio and Kuroshio currents affect phytoplankton. When two currents with different temperatures and densities (cold, Arctic water is saltier and denser than subtropical waters) collide, they create eddies. Phytoplankton growing in the surface waters become concentrated along the boundaries of these eddies, tracing out the motions of the water. The swirls of colour visible in the waters south-east of Hokkaido (upper left), show where different kinds of phytoplankton are using chlorophyll and other pigments to capture sunlight and produce food. The bright blues just offshore of Hokkaido may be churned up sediment, rather than phytoplankton. The washed out appearance of the image at lower left is from sun glint — the (blurred) mirror-like reflection of the Sun off the water. At upper right, a plume of haze, perhaps smoke from fires in Mongolia and Russia, cuts across the scene.

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