Box 2.1
The Unique Vantage Point from Space

“The ability to derive global maps of chlorophyll-a concentration (milligrams per cubic meter) in the upper ocean from ocean color sensors was a groundbreaking achievement for the oceanographic community” (see figure below; NRC, 2008a).

The unique vantage point from space has revolutionized Earth sciences in general. For the first time, scientists have been able to obtain a global synoptic view of the biomass of phytoplankton in the ocean. This unique observing platform has also allowed scientists for the first time to visualize and study dynamic features, such as mesoscale eddies and ocean fronts, and their impact on ocean biology.


Map of chlorophyll concentration (milligrams per cubic meter) in the upper Atlantic Ocean derived from data obtained by the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor.
SOURCE: SeaWiFS Project, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and GeoEye.

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