From the department of life

Phytoplankton bloom around the Chatham Islands, New Zealand. Source: NASA's Earth Observatory. Click on the image to keep reading from the space agency about how the region's massive phytoplankton blooms sustain valuable fish.

Oil and water

Click on the image to be taken to NASA’s Earth Observatory for the history of this May 23 image of the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Or go to the Huffington Post for the most unflinching coverage of pelicans coated in crude as the oil reaches Louisiana wetlands.

Beyond the pale

Oil slick from the British Petroleum spill in the Gulf of Mexico spreads toward the Mississippi Delta. Source: NASA. Click on the image to be taken to its Earth Observatory for the history of this May 1 image and other images of the disaster.

From the New York Times Greenwire: “BP used to stand for ‘British Petroleum.’ Now the company wants people to think ‘Beyond Petroleum.’ But in the eyes of the Obama administration it’s starting to mean ‘blame petroleum.’ They cannot cite a specific complaint beyond a desire that the company work faster to find a solution to the river of crude pouring out of its well. But Obama’s Cabinet secretaries have started poking some verbal kidney punches at the oil giant.” To keep reading, click here.

In fact, BP still stands for British Petroleum. To read its account of the clean up efforts, click here

Rain in Spain

FROM NASA’s Earth Observatory: left is an image of southern Spain showing the course of the Guadalquivir River past Seville in March 2009. To the right is an image from March 2010, with blue areas around the river bank showing extensive flooding from late February rain. Click here to see the full resolution images.

Image of the day: Mediterranean climate zones

THIS image of the day from NASA’s Earth Observatory takes composite pictures of global cloud cover for the month of October 2009 to examine what cloud presence alone says about the land below.

According to NASA, the starkest examples are in areas where dry land is bordered by ocean. Sure enough, peeping out from beneath the clouds are the world’s five mediterranean climate zones, which in addition to California include part of the Chilean coast into western Argentina, southwestern Australia, the Mediterranean basin and southwestern South Africa.

Mediterranean climate zones have unique floras adapted to surviving on winter rains then hunkering down into dormancy during prolonged dry seasons. For Californians, who for the last century have grown wet-climate plants such as turf grass with imported water, a switch to native and mediterranean climate zone plants is seen as an essential step as global warming and population growth threaten the

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