The Shetland Islands, an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, are pictured in this image Copernicus Sentinel-2,
Located about 100 km north of the Scottish mainland, the Shetland Islands separate the Atlantic Ocean in the west from the North Sea in the east. The archipelago consists of about 100 islands and islets, of which less than 20 are inhabited. The islands cover an area of approximately 1,468 sq km and have a rugged coastline of approximately 2,700 sq km.
The largest island, known as the Mainland, has an area of about 900 km, making it the third largest Scottish island. The other large islands are Yale, Unst and Fetler, which lie to the north, and Bresse and Whalese, which extend to the east. The city of Lerwick, located on the mainland, is the capital and largest settlement of the archipelago.
The most striking feature in this week’s image, captured on July 1, 2021, is the vivid turquoise bloom visible to the east of the islands. This type of bloom is slightly different from the harmful cyanobacteria often seen Baltic Sea,
In the absence of any other known specimens analysed, it is thought to be a bloom of coccolithophores, a type of microscopic seaweed that lives in the upper layers of the ocean. Like all phytoplankton, coccolithophores contain chlorophyll and tend to multiply rapidly near the surface.
In large quantities, coccolithophores periodically release their tiny scales, called “coccoliths”, into the surrounding water. These calcium-rich pampers give the typically deep waters a wonderfully milky-turquoise hue. Although invisible to the eye, in large quantities they are easily detected in satellite images. These types of algae play a large role in the ocean’s absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide, as their shells sink to the deepest depths of the ocean after they die, storing carbon in the process.
This year’s edition of the United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP26 – takes place in Scotland from 31 October to 12 November. The summit aims to encourage faster and more ambitious action by the international community to achieve the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 °C. As in previous years, ESA has a strong presence at COP26, showing how satellite data strengthens our understanding of climate from space. Learn more about Role of ESA in COP26,
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