Plankton Blooms Off Argentina
Off the coast of Argentina, seven distinct bands of plankton were photographed Dec. 21, 2010 in this nutrient-rich area of the Atlantic where two currents meet. As NASA puts it:
"The milky green and blue bloom developed in an area known as the Brazil-Falklands Confluence. It's where the warm salty waters of the subtropical Brazil Current flow south and meet the colder, fresher waters brought north from the Southern Ocean by the Falklands (Malvinas) Current. Where these currents collide along the continental shelfknown to oceanographers as a shelf-break frontturbulent eddies form and pull nutrients up from the deep ocean. Also, the Rio de la Plata runs off the land and deposits nitrogen and iron-laden sediment into the ocean just north of the area shown in the image."
Read on to see more, and learn more, about this amazing part of the world.
Patagonia, the region comprising the southernmost portion of South America, where Chile and Argentina are separated by the long spine of the Andes, was named by Magellan for the supposedly giant locals, who may well have been nearly a foot taller than Portuguese and Spanish men with whom Magellan sailed, but who were not particularly tall by modern standards. The region, however, is one of the world's most dramatic landscapes, known for its blue glaciers and steep rocky peaks, but home to a surprisingly wide variety of unique and usually forbidding landscapes. Here, we look at some of NASA's best satellite and astronaut photography of one of the world's most striking regions.
Moreno Glacier, Argentina
A tourist attraction, Moreno Glacier (a.k.a. Perito Moreno) is the centerpiece of Argentina's Glacier National Park in southern Patagonia. The image shows the contrast created by an ice dam separating two bodies of water at significantly different elevations Lago Argentino toward the top and Brazo Rico toward the bottom.
Upsala Glacier, Argentina
Like the Moreno Glacier, the Upsala Glacier has its terminus in Lake Argentina (Lago Argentino), seen here in Spring when ice is calving from the glacier. Notice how some of the icebergs includes remnants of the rocky debris on top of the glacier called the moraine, illustrating how rocks can be carried long distances by floating ice.
Rio Negro Floodplain, Argentina
"Meander scars" mark the landscape in the floodplain of the Rio Negro, showing where the river has carved its path in the past few hundred years. The Rio Negro floodplain supports Argentina's biggest pear and apple orchards. (Farm boundaries are visible as small rectangles in the bottom center of this image.) The river also hosts the world's longest kayak regatta, which lasts six days.
The Patagonian Shelf, Argentina
The Patagonian shelf off Argentina is an important area for marine life. The convergence of the Malvinas and Brazil currents interact to bring, in the words of NASA, "nutrients from the dark ocean depths to the sunlit surface, resulting in dense blooms of phytoplankton, especially in the spring and early summer."
Penguin Glacier Outlet, Chile
NASA describes the Penguin glacier and others in the region: "The Southern Patagonian Ice Field of Chile and Argentina hosts a spectacular array of glaciers and associated glacial features within the southern Andes Mountains. Glaciers flowing downhill on the eastern side of the mountains have outlets into several large freshwater lakes. On the western side of the mountains, glaciers release ice into the Pacific Ocean via an intricate network of fjords. Fjords are steep, inundated valleys originally cut by glaciers during periods of lower sea level. As glaciers flow into the fjord, ice at the front of the glacier begins to break off and form icebergs that can float out to seaa process known as calving."
Dust Plumes Off Argentina
Unlike the dramatic cliffs and glaciers for which Patagonia is known, this Patagonian region of Argentina consists largely of windswept deserts. Here, a dust plume blew into the Atlantic in 2009.
Lake Greve, Chile
A rare view because it is so often obscured by clouds, the Greve and Occidental glaciers (left) and the Brüggen glacier (right) feed Lake Greve in Chile. Brüggen glacier is the largest western outflow of ice from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and, unlike most glaciers worldwide, it advanced significantly between 1945 and 2001.
Neuquén Basin, Argentina
In a Northern Patagonian landscape that would seem to be at home on Mars, the Neuquén Basin has provided not only fossil fuel riches, but surprising paleontological discoveries most notably an 135-million-year-old, 13-foot-long crocodile that had the head of a meat-eating dinosaur and the tail of a fish, unearthed in 2005. Now dry, this land was repeatedly flooded by both the Atlantic and Pacific tens of millions of years ago, creating the landscape that today draws both fossil hunters and fossil fuel hunters.