Troubled waters in the English Channel •

Today Picture of the day from NASA Earth Observatory features the eastern end of the English Channel (La Manche) in mid-March 2022. The skies are clear, but the waters are dark due to sediments being stirred up by the seabed.

According to NASA, spring in these northern seas is also accompanied by the outflow of river sediments and the blooming of phytoplankton. These floating organisms thrive in nutrient-rich water.

“The optical complexity of the eastern English Channel and southern North Sea waters is a veritable witch-mix of suspended sediments from the Thames Estuary and the soft substrates of the French and Belgian coasts,” said Tim Smyth, chief scientist of marine biogeochemistry. and observations at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK). The sediments are lifted by waves and strong currents that come and go in the English Channel.

“The complexity of the currents and the ever-changing bathymetry of the seabed shape the beautiful filamentary patterns of this region,” Smyth said. “The optical complexity of the meeting of the English Channel and the North Sea makes it difficult to separate the sediments from the chlorophyll signal there.”

The natural-color image was captured on March 17, 2022 by the HawkEye multispectral sensor aboard the SeaHawk CubeSat.

“It’s extremely rare to have a cloudless day in this region,” said Alan Holmes, the Cloudland Instruments engineer who built HawkEye. “That doesn’t happen often in wide fields of view.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

By Chrissy Sexon, Personal editor