• Avengers star Mark Ruffalo is one of a handful of Hollywood A-listers committed to the fight against climate change. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore, FlickrCC

    Who are some of the greener movie stars out there today and what are they doing to fight for the planet?

    Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss EarthTalk While a handful of Hollywood A-listers—Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Ed Begley Jr., to name a few —have been actively campaigning for the environment for decades, a new wave of green celebrities is using star power to help convince millions of fans around...
  • Studies show diesel emissions are 90 times higher near the Port of Oakland in West Oakland than the state average. Photo Credit:  Chris Jordan-Block/Earthjustice

    Group Files Civil-Rights Complaint Over Port of Oakland Pollution

    Suzanne Potter California News Service OAKLAND, Calif. – Millions of Californians live close to a major port and just last week, community leaders in West Oakland filed a federal complaint alleging that the continued pollution in their community of color is a violation of the Civil Rights Act. Margaret...
  • A warming climate and rising sea levels already are affecting U.S. military bases. Photo Credit: Robert J. Sitar, USN/Wikimedia Commons

    Rolling Back Climate-Change Initiatives: A Threat to National Security?

    Andrea Sears Public News Service PHILADELPHIA – National security experts say President Trump’s actions to roll back or eliminate programs to slow global climate change will put the country in danger. According to retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, chief executive of the American Security Project, climate change...
  • Some consider the lead contamination of the water supply of predominantly African-American Flint, Michigan to be an environmental justice issue. Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering, FlickrCC.

    What Is “Environmental Justice” and How Is It Under Assault in the New Administration?

    Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss EathTalk Environmental justice is defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.”...
  • Environmentalists worry that Neil Gorsuch will be dismissive of advocacy groups and could cast the deciding vote against implementing the Clean Power Plan. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

    Neil Gorsuch and the Environment

    What will be the implications for environmental and climate policy if Neil Gorsuch is confirmed to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court? Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss EarthTalk Environmental leaders aren’t particularly jazzed about Neil Gorsuch as Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy left on the...
  • Los devastadores daños causados por el muro existente. Photo Credit:Sierra Club

    El Muro de la Vergüenza

    Javier Sierra Sierra Club Durante los peores años de la Guerra Fría, el Muro de Berlín se ganó el sobrenombre de Muro de la Vergüenza. En 1963, el Presidente Kennedy, en un memorable discurso, dijo que, “El Muro es (…) una ofensa contra la humanidad que separa a familias,...
  • Water infrastructure issues are front and center in Washington during Water Week 2017. Photo Credit: earl53/Morguefile

    Advocates Push for Big Federal Investment in Water Infrastructure

    Suzanne Potter California News Service SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. is drastically underfunding water projects, putting communities at risk for a catastrophic failure, according to a new report from the U.S. Water Alliance. Advocates for better water infrastructure are flooding Washington, so to speak, for Water Week 2017. The...
  • Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's pick to run the EPA, says he isn't convinced that carbon dioxide emissions from human industrial activity is to blame for global warming, and would like to see significant cuts to EPA funding if not the dismantling of the agency altogether. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore, FlickrCC.

    What Good the EPA Has Done for the Environment?

    Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss EarthTalk Without the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans would breathe dirtier air, drink more polluted water and live and grow food on contaminated soils. Polluters wouldn’t be held accountable for their irresponsible behavior, wildlife would have a more difficult time finding suitable habitat...
  • This huge 2010 phytoplankton bloom, visible from space, stretched for hundreds of miles across the Barents Sea between Russia and Scandinavia. Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.


In this natural-color image from August 31, 2010, the ocean’s canvas swirls with turquoise, teal, navy, and green, the abstract art of the natural world. The colors were painted by a massive phytoplankton bloom made up of millions of tiny, light-reflecting organisms growing in the sunlit surface waters of the Barents Sea. Such blooms peak every August in the Barents Sea.

The variations in color are caused by different species and concentrations of phytoplankton. The bright blue colors are probably from coccolithophores, a type of phytoplankton that is coated in a chalky shell that reflects light, turning the ocean a milky turquoise. Coccolithophores dominate the Barents Sea in August. Shades of green are likely from diatoms, another type of phytoplankton. Diatoms usually dominate the Barents Sea earlier in the year, giving way to coccolithophores in the late summer. However, field measurements of previous August blooms have also turned up high concentrations of diatoms.

The Barents Sea is a shallow sea sandwiched between the coastline of northern Russia and Scandinavia and the islands of Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, and Novaya Zemlya. Within the shallow basin, currents carrying warm, salty water from the Atlantic collide with currents carrying cold, fresher water from the Arctic. During the winter, strong winds drive the currents and mix the waters. When winter’s sea ice retreats and light returns in the spring, diatoms thrive, typically peaking in a large bloom in late May.

The shift between diatoms and coccolithophores occurs as the Barents Sea changes during the summer months. Throughout summer, perpetual light falls on the waters, gradually warming the surface. Eventually, the ocean stratifies into layers, with warm water sitting on top of cooler water. The diatoms deplete most of the nutrients in the surface waters and stop growing. Coccolithophores, on the other hand, do well in warm, nutrient-depleted water with a l

    How do environmentalists feel about the concept of ocean fertilization as a form of carbon sequestration?

    Doug Moss & Roddy Scheer EarthTalk Ocean fertilization is a technique whereby swaths of ocean are “seeded” with iron to promote the growth of phytoplankton (microscopic plants that form the base of the marine food chain), and is one of several promising geo-engineering techniques that could help mitigate global...