Eddies from Space


NASA’s Earth Observatory is full of images that appeal to paddlers. Here, they show giant eddies off of British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands and Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago, displayed to highlight the presence of biological activity in the ocean.


The eddies are formed by strong outflow currents from rivers along North America’s west coast that are rich in nutrients from the springtime snowmelt running off the mountains.


These colors indicate high concentrations of chlorophyll, the primary pigment found in phytoplankton. Notice that there are a number of eddies visible in the Pacific Ocean in this pseudo-color scene. This nutrient-rich water helps stimulate the phytoplankton blooms within the eddies.


To the west of the eddies in the water, another type of eddy – this one in the atmosphere – forms the clouds into the counterclockwise spiral characteristic of a low pressure system in the Northern Hemisphere.


Check the Earth Observatory Web site here for more details.

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