The European Space Agency (ESA) Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite collected this image of the Bering Sea, north of the Alaska Peninsula, on March 26, 2017. Seasonal sea ice dominates the upper part of the image.
Ice plays an important role in the sea’s ecosystem. Growing algae attach to the bottom of the ice; when the ice melts in the spring, it leaves behind a layer of nutrient-rich freshwater on which the algae thrive. Organisms higher up the food chain then eat the algae.
The top-right corner reveals part of Alaska’s mainland blanketed with snow as well as Nunivak Island appearing like a massive piece of floating ice. The swirling clouds on the image’s right side are the result of a meteorological phenomenon known as a von Kármán vortex street. As wind-driven clouds pass over the Unimak Island on the right edge of the image, they flow around the high volcanoes to form the large spinning eddies that can clearly be seen in the image.