Out-of-this-world imagery of our planet’s “lungs”

Out-of-this-world imagery of our planet’s “lungs”

Today (8 June) is World Oceans Day and EUMETSAT is proud to bring you some out-of-this-world imagery of planet Earth’s oceans and seas.

Out-of-this-world imagery of our planet’s “lungs”
Out-of-this-world imagery of our planet’s “lungs”

We hope the animation and images below inspire and motivate readers to learn more about the UN’s purpose in designating a World Oceans Day

Last Updated

08 February 2021

Published on

08 June 2018

“… to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world's oceans. They are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe.”

To mark World Oceans Day, EUMETSAT has released this animation, “A Year of Ocean Colour 2017”.

The 2-minute animation shows measurements of chlorophyll in the oceans throughout 2017. It is narrated by Dr Hayley Evers-King from Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

EUMETSAT’s fleet of meteorological satellites provides data on our oceans for weather and ocean forecasting and climate change monitoring.

In addition, EUMETSAT processes and disseminates marine data from the European Union’s Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission.

Sentinel-3B was launched on 25 April and EUMETSAT is preparing to take over operations of the satellite from its headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. Although the satellite is still undergoing its commissioning phase, the imagery it has begun to send back to Earth has impressed with its quality.

Sentinel-3B captures a rare, cloud-free day over Northern Europe on 8 May – one of the first images it sent back to Earth. Features over the land and water can be clearly seen, including differing types of land cover, such as snow cover, and a plume of phytoplankton in the North Sea.

SLSTR Europe
The Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer on-board Sentinel-3B captured a fascinating image of a low over the UK and Ireland and the Bay of Biscay, Spain. The image was taken at 10:51 UTC on Wednesday 9 May. Clearly visible are interesting cloud features off the west coast of Spain, Portugal and northern Africa, and a trough through the Gibraltar area.

SRAL first image
Sea level anomalies from Sentinel-3B and other satellite altimeters, acquired on 8 May 2018

SLSTR IR image
One of the first infrared images (channel S8/10.8 µm nadir view) of the Sentinel-3B Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR), taken just a few moments after the activation of the infrared channels, shows the beautiful dynamics of the Baltic Sea. The image was acquired at 09:27 on 30 May. It captures the generation of filaments and meanders in the Gulf of Finland, fully formed eddies in the Gotland Basin, coastal upwelling along the Polish and Latvian coasts and other mesoscale and sub mesoscale features in the basin. The impressive image shows promising results for high-quality SLSTR-B sea surface temperature measurements.

What satellite data about the oceans can tell us

The uses for satellite data are many and varied and the impact on our daily lives is great – and growing – if not always well-known by the public.

Altimeters provide information about sea level and, because we now have data stretching back over decades, how the sea level is rising. But these instruments also provide information crucial for maritime safety, for example, significant wave heights.

Sea surface temperature data can be used to help predict hurricane and cyclone paths, allowing communities to prepare in advance. The data can also help predict El Nino and La Nina phenomena.

Ocean colour data show phytoplankton concentrations and can provide important information about harmful algal blooms.

The data can not only help speed up responses to natural and man-made disasters but also provide business opportunities.

But information about the oceans is also crucial for weather forecasting thousands of kilometres away. Our recent blog post discusses how, if you want to know what the weather in Europe will be like in 10 days’ time, it’s important to look at what is happening over the Pacific Ocean now.