New research offers clues on global pollution pathways
Polluted dust from Asia is cutting oxygen levels in the tropical Pacific Ocean, researchers said this week, releasing a new study that traces a chain reaction that starts with land-based industrial pollution in China and other Asian countries.
“There’s a growing awareness that oxygen levels in the ocean may be changing over time,” said Taka Ito, an associate professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “One reason for that is the warming environment – warm water holds less gas. But in the tropical Pacific, the oxygen level has been falling at a much faster rate than the temperature change can explain,” Ito said.
Study shows ocean dynamics mixing microplastics deep into the water column
There’s no question that plastics pollution in the world’s oceans is a serious and growing problem. One recent study estimated that somewhere between 5 million and 13 million metric tons of plastic waste were dumped into the ocean in 2010 alone, for the sake of comparison, one metric ton is 2,200 pounds, about the weight of a small car.
Other studies focusing on the impacts of all the debris show that plastic poses a risk to sea turtles,crabs and seabirds, while research voyages have shown that the tiny microparticles are to be found nearly everywhere, including the Arctic.
And new research released in April suggests that most estimates of plastics pollution in the ocean may be far too low, because most attention has been focused on measuring the debris floating near the surface. But ocean turbulence may be mixing the plastic much deeper, beyond the reach of the surface sampling, according to University of Delaware physical oceanographer Tobias Kukulka. Continue reading “There’s more plastic debris in the oceans than we think”→
Deoxygenation caused by global warming is already detectable in some of the world’s warmest ocean areas, climate scientists said last week, announcing the results of a new study that shows how increasing global temperatures will play out.
Based on their modeling, the researchers said they could detect the influence of human-caused climate change in the southern Indian Ocean and parts of the eastern tropical Pacific and Atlantic basins. They expect to be able to detect similar signs in many other ocean areas between 2030 and 2040. Continue reading “Global warming starting to rob oceans of oxygen”→
Cuban coral reefs thought to be among region’s most pristine
Tourists won’t be the only beneficiaries of easing tensions between the U.S. and Cuba. Scientists working in the Caribbean will also be able to find new opportunities for collaboration, according to federal officials.
“Ocean currents know no boundaries,” said Billy Causey, regional director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries‘ Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region. “They’re a conveyor belt, moving important marine life between our countries. Working together will help us better preserve these natural resources to benefit people in both our countries,” Causey said.
“We’re maybe looking at a 2- to 2.5-year-long event. Some areas have already seen bleaching two years in a row,” said Mark Eakin, a biological oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in College Park, Maryland, and coordinator of the agency’s Coral Reef Watch.