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NASA captures images of Cape Cod as spring begins to stir

With the feeling of spring in the air, Massachusetts is beginning to feel the part, as a streak of above average temperatures provides a stark contrast to winter.

The meteorological spring, which began March 1, ushered in an unusually warm stretch. Monday reached a high of 71 degrees, causing people to shed their jackets and bask in the sun.

The temperature was “nearly 25 degrees above average,” said Bryce Williams, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Norton.

NASA captured the seasonal changes off the coast in satellite images shot with two different instruments.

Longer days mean that primary producers, such as plants, phytoplankton, and other organisms off the coast are slowly waking up, said Michael Carlowicz, the managing editor of NASA Earth Observatory, in a statement. Spring weather brings both sunlight and nutrients, which the organisms need to survive.


Observing Earth in 36 different spectral bands, NASA scientist Norman Kuring used the full spectrum captured by the Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer to make the phytoplankton blooms visible, Carlowicz said. The data was collected on Feb. 23.

“The detailed swirls in the chlorophyll-rich water are real; Kuring simply separates and enhances certain spectral bands to tease out the details,” Carlowicz said.

Measurements of Chlorophyll A, a specific form of chlorophyll that absorbs blue and red light and reflects green light, taken from Feb. 23 to March 8 can be seen in the photograph capturing the Atlantic Ocean, Carlowicz said. The lighter green and blue areas offshore show “the locations of blooming phytoplankton, suspended sediments, and shallow shoals and banks.”

The image showing Cape Cod and the islands was obtained using the Operational Land Imager on Feb. 24, Carlowicz said.

“Spring is a time of great change, turbulence, and productivity in the North Atlantic Ocean,” Carlowicz said. “As snow and ice melt and spring rains fall, rivers surge with water and carry nutrients into the coastal ocean.”


Matt Berg can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.