Science Art: Aerial image and satellite derived image of Florida lakes, by Richard P. Stumpf, U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientific illustration of Florida lakes, using imagery derived from satellites and aerial photographs

Scientific illustration of Florida lakes, using imagery derived from satellites and aerial photographsClick to embiggen

From the USGS:

This image is a cropped rendition of two aerial images that demonstrate satellite-derived cyanobacteria concentrations in surface waters from an area in Florida. The top image is true-color photograph, and the bottom image is from the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) sensor on the Envisat satellite, taken October 1, 2011. Data from the sensor lets scientists assign quantitative values for cyanobacteria concentrations, which are represented using a color scale ranging from blue (low concentrations) to red (high concentrations).

In other words, we’re going way, way up high to look at numbers of near-microscopic critters here in the water. Cyanobacteria were one of the biggest microbes in the news last year. This year, not so much.

In a few million years, blooms like this might make a decent-sized petroleum deposit. They’re not so useful to humans right now, though.