Student: Peter Tripp
Educators: Marjan Colletti / Marc Ihle / Luca Melchiori | Tutors: Christian Bührer / David Christian / Jan Contala / Philipp Schwaderer / Dominik Schöch / Felix Steinbacher
Institute for experimental architecture and building construction of the University of Innsbruck | © Universität Innsbruck
Reinterpreted Digital Ecologies – A Series of Images:
Although it may appear as a watercolour painting, this image is a natural-colour capture of a plankton bloom in the Barents Sea by the Sentinel-2A satellite.
Plankton, the most abundant type of life found in the ocean, are microscopic marine plants that drift on or near the surface of the sea. They are sometimes referred to as ‘the grass of the sea’ because they are the basic food on which all other marine life depends.
Since plankton contain photosynthetic chlorophyll pigments, these simple organisms play a similar role to terrestrial ‘green’ plants in the photosynthetic process. Plankton are able to convert inorganic compounds such as water, nitrogen and carbon into complex organic materials.
With their ability to ‘digest’ these compounds, they are credited with removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as their counterparts on land. As a result, the oceans have a profound influence on climate. Since plankton are a major influence on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and are sensitive to environmental changes, it is important to monitor and model them into calculations of future climate change.
Although some types of plankton are individually microscopic, the chlorophyll they use for photosynthesis collectively tints the colour of the surrounding ocean waters, providing a means of detecting these tiny organisms from space with dedicated sensors, such as Sentinel-2’s multispectral imager with 13 spectral bands.
Some algae species are toxic or harmful. If they surge out of control during optimal blooming conditions they can exhaust the water of oxygen and suffocate larger fish. This phenomenon has dramatically increased in recent decades, and is particularly dangerous to fish farms because the fish cannot flee affected areas. Early warning of harmful blooms from satellites can help to prevent fish farmers from losing their stock, as it happened in Chile recently.
Underwater structures of the Great Bahamas Bank are pictured in this image from the Landsat-8 satellite on 5 February.
Sitting north of Cuba, the bank is made of limestone – mainly from the skeletal fragments of marine organisms – that has been accumulating for over 100 million years.
Currents sculpted these underwater sediments into the wavy pattern we see along the bottom of the image, just a few metres deep.
We can clearly see where the shallow waters drop off into the deep, dark water of an area known as the Tongue of the Ocean. With depths of up to about 4000 m, this trench surrounded by islands, reefs and shoals has an opening to the Atlantic Ocean at its northern end (not pictured).
The trench was carved during the last Ice Age when the land was still above sea level and exposed to erosion from draining rainwater. As the Ice Age ended and the massive ice sheets across the globe melted, global sea levels rose and flooded the canyon.
Over the deep Tongue we can see a few sparse clouds.
This false-colour Envisat image highlights a unique cloud formation, created by ‘Von Karman vortices’, south of the Canary Island archipelago, some 95 km from the northwest coast of Africa (right) in the Atlantic Ocean.
Von Karman vortices, named after aeronautical engineer Theodore von Karman, form as air flows around an object in its path, causing it to separate and create eddies in its wake.
The clockwise and counterclockwise spirals in this image were created as wind blowing from the north over the Atlantic was disturbed by the archipelago.
Seven larger islands and a few smaller ones make up the Canaries; the larger islands are (left to right): El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.
Tenerife is the largest of the Canaries, while Gran Canaria is the most populated. UNESCO declared La Palma a Biosphere Reserve in 1983.
This image was acquired by Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer on 6 June 2010 at a resolution of 300 m.
references & sources:
“ESA” , http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth
Abb1 : “Barents bloom” , http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2016/08/Barents_bloom , 23.10.2017
Abb2 : “Great Bahamas Bank” , http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2014/12/Great_Bahamas_Bank , 23.10.2017
Abb3 : “Swirling cloud art in the Atlantic Ocean” , http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2010/06/Swirling_cloud_art_in_the_Atlantic_Ocean , 23.10.2017