EarthWatch: South Carolina’s Stained Winyah Bay

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Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory:
  • NASA Earth Observatory image by Norman Kuring/NASA's Ocean Color Web, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey Image of the Day story by Adam Voiland, with information from James Morris (University of South Carolina): 
  • Adaptation to ViewSpace by Claire Blome, Margaret W. Carruthers, and Dani Player
  • Music from Music for Nonprofits 

Text, Earth Watch, Exploring the blue planet by satellite. Earth Observatory. Earth Observatory dot nasa dot gov. Operational Land Imager, Landsat 8 Satellite. South Carolina's Stained Winyah Bay. October 1, 2020.
Winyah Bay, an estuary in eastern South Carolina, is fed by four "blackwater rivers" that flow through swamps, wetlands and forests that are rich with decaying vegetation and other organic matter. Winyah Bay is labeled as it cuts into South Carolina's coast against the Atlantic Ocean.
Text, Dead leaves and debris stain the rivers and wetlands a transparent brown color.
The same process gives tea its yellow or brown color.
This satellite image shows stained floodwaters that were flushed out of swamps and wetlands into the Atlantic Ocean following heavy rains from Hurricane Sally.
Water with large amounts of dissolved organic matter can influence aquatic ecosystems by absorbing colors of light that some phytoplankton rely on.
Phytoplankton with pigments to absorb red light can thrive in the brownish red water, but those that rely on green light will not be able to photosynthesize.
To learn more, go to earth observatory dot nasa dot gov.