• 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...
  • Everyday Americans shouldn't feel helpless when it comes to influencing policy on environmental issues. Calling on your Representatives in Congress to let them know how you feel is the first step toward becoming part of the solution. Photo Credit: RJ Schmidt, FlickrCC.

    A New Administration, a New Fight for the Environment

    What can be done as an average citizen to combat harmful environmental policies Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss EarthTalk Lots. The sad fact is that while more than two-thirds of Americans want the federal government to do more to protect against global warming and other environmental ills, the Trump...
  • San Francisco, with upwards of 18,000 people per square mile, is the second densest major U.S. city behind New York. Photo Credit: Dave Glass, FlickrCC

    Dense World

    Is the increasing urbanization of our world good for reducing our carbon footprint? Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss EarthTalk No doubt, the increased density of big cities leads to less energy use and fewer greenhouse gas emissions per capita. “The biggest factor is transportation, first, simply because trips get...
  • Photo Credit: BPT

    5 easy ways to ‘charge up’ your recycling habits

    BPT Americans generate about 254 million tons of trash annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) most recent figures, and only about one-third of that waste is recycled. For many, one of the main barriers to recycling is not knowing how or where to recycle certain items. For...
  • Multiple oil refineries on the California coast contribute to the state's persistent air-quality problems. Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk

    How Will California Clean its Air?

    Logan Pollard California News Service LOS ANGELES – Southern California has long been plagued with dirty air – so dirty that clean-air advocates claim the entire South Coast basin has never been in full compliance with the federal Clean Air Act. But today, the South Coast Air Quality Management...
  • Sengled's Boost is an energy efficient LED light bulb with a Wi-Fi repeater built inside. Photo Credit: Earthtalk

    Eco-Friendly Light Bulbs

    Are incandescent bulbs are back in a much more efficient form?  Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss EarthTalk The consumer landscape for light bulbs in the U.S. changed drastically in 2007 when Congress passed the Energy Independence & Security Act mandating, among other things, that household light bulbs in the...