the color of the sea

From: Phillip J. Clapham (pclapham@whsun1.wh.whoi.edu)
Date: Mon Jan 15 2001 - 09:21:34 EST


Hi:
You asked why the sea is blue. Well, it isn't always. The color of the
sea varies from deep blue to green or gray, and it depends on several
things. The sea will reflect the sky, so it will always be brighter and
bluer when the sky is cloudless; and grayer when there is a lot of heavy
cloud cover. The color also depends on what's in the water. In tropical
waters where there is very little planktonic life (relative to higher
latitudes like off New England) the sea is much clearer (you can see
farther underwater because there isn't plankton obstructing the light), and
also bluer. This is because phytoplankton (microscopic plants) give the
sea a green color; that's why the sea is much nmore likely to be green off
New England and in other places where there's a lot of productivity -
because there's lots of lots of plankton in the water.

Phil Clapham



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