Tag: Pacific Ocean

How long can the oceans soak up CO2?

What’s the tipping point?

Researchers examine ocean acidification rates

Staff Report

For now, the world’s oceans are sucking up so much carbon dioxide that it’s helping to slow the rate of global warming. But that’s expected to change in the future, researchers warned after taking a detailed look at the rate of ocean acidification in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Continue reading “How long can the oceans soak up CO2?”

New study tracks origins of the Pacific ‘ warm blob’

El Niño a key factor, but global warming to increase marine heatwaves

Marine heatwaves are becoming more frequent and widespread.
Marine heatwaves are becoming more frequent and widespread.

Staff Report

A disruptive ocean heatwave in the northeastern Pacific Ocean in 2014 and 2015 was probably a manifestation of El Niño, says a new study by scientists with the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Such warm-water events could become more common as heat-trapping pollution continues to increase in the atmosphere, according to the findings published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Continue reading “New study tracks origins of the Pacific ‘ warm blob’”

Does industrial pollution from Asia cause oxygen-starved dead zones in the Pacific Ocean?

New research offers clues on global pollution pathways

A new study shows  industrial pollution from Asia affects the health of tropical oceans. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

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.

The study found that the pollution raises levels of iron and nitrogen  in the ocean off the coast of East Asia. Ocean currents then carried the nutrients to tropical regions, where it feeds photosynthesizing phytoplankton. As those organisms feed on the nutrients, it has a negative effect on the dissolved oxygen levels deeper in the ocean. Continue reading “Does industrial pollution from Asia cause oxygen-starved dead zones in the Pacific Ocean?”

Algae toxin found in West Coast fish for first time

A series of Landsat 8 images captures the scope of the algae blooms off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Global warming is poisoning the seas

Staff Report

Warm ocean temperatures in the Pacific led to what researchers now are calling an unprecedented bloom of toxic algae along the west coast of North America in 2015. The algal toxin domoic acid was found in samples from a wide range of marine organisms — and for the first time, in the muscle tissue of several commercial fish species.

Scientists from the University of California, Santa Cruz led the investigations into the spread of the toxin through the marine food web, finding that it persisted in Dungeness crab months after the algal bloom disappeared from coastal waters.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a type of microscopic algae called Pseudo-nitzschia that occurs naturally in coastal waters. Blooms of the toxic algae along the California coast typically occur in the spring and fall and last just a few weeks. This year, however, unusual oceanographic conditions (unrelated to El Niño) led to the largest and longest-lasting bloom ever recorded. Continue reading “Algae toxin found in West Coast fish for first time”

Fukushima radioactive contamination still increasing off West Coast of U.S.

Radioactive contamination from the Fukushima disaster lingers in the Pacific Ocean.

Readings still far below official safety limits

Staff Report

Continued monitoring in the Pacific Ocean shows that radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster is still spreading eastward.

An increased number of sites off the US West Coast are showing signs of contamination, includes the highest detected level to date from a sample collected about 1,600 miles west of San Francisco. Continue reading “Fukushima radioactive contamination still increasing off West Coast of U.S.”

Pacific islands face extreme sea level changes

Study tracks El Niño shifts

How will climate change affect Pacific atolls? Photo via NASA.

Staff Report

Climate change will likely subject many low-lying Pacific island nations to more extreme fluctuations in sea level from year to year, in synch with more intense El Niño cycles. Some years, high sea level will lead to bigger floods, while in other years, big drops in sea level will leave coral reefs exposed, according to researchers based in Hawaii and Australia. Continue reading “Pacific islands face extreme sea level changes”

USGS report shows how global warming will shift Pacific wind and wave patterns

Study pinpoints impacts to island communities & ecosystems

How will islands in the Pacific Ocean be affected by global warming?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey have developed climate models that help show how global warming will change wind and wave patterns, potentially affecting island communities, especially as sea level rises.

The new USGS report looked at U.S. and U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, where climate change is expected to alter the highest waves and strongest winds. The detailed data should help communities develop coastal resilience plans and ecosystem restoration efforts, and to design future coastal infrastructure. Continue reading “USGS report shows how global warming will shift Pacific wind and wave patterns”