Saturday, June 20, 2015
Strange things are happening in our Pacific Ocean.
In the Hawaiian Islands, we’re seeing increasing coral disease, widening coastal erosion and reduced rainfall, all of which may be associated with climate change and its impacts. But there are other concerning impacts throughout the Pacific.
In Alaska, nine dead fin whales were found off Kodiak Island, with no obvious signs of injury or illness.
In California, a massive toxic algae bloom is shutting down fisheries, as species of the alga Pseudo-nitzschia floods the environment with neurotoxins that bioaccumulate in wildlife. Some sources suggest it may be the biggest such algae bloom ever.
Hundreds of thousands of dead red crabs are washing up on California beaches, apparently unrelated to the algae bloom, but associated with water temperature issues.
"This is definitely a warm-water indicator. Whether it's directly related to El Nino or other oceanographic conditions is not certain," said Linsey Sala, collection manager for the Pelagic Invertebrates Collection at San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
If climate change is a factor in all this, there’s another piece of data.
Researchers have long worried about how much sea level rise we’ll get from melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, but how they’re seeing significant impacts from Alaskan glaciers as well.
Those diminishing glaciers to our north will be a significant driver of sea level rise in coming years, say the authors of a new paper reviewed in Science Daily.
While mountain glaciers contain only a small fraction of total glacier ice, they are melting fast and represent as much as a third of all glacier melt contribution to sea level rise, says the study, “Surface Melt Dominates Alaska Glacier Mass Balance.”
“Glaciers ending on land are losing mass exceptionally fast, overshadowing mass changes due to iceberg calving, and making climate-related melting the primary control on mountain glacier mass loss," said Chris Larsen, of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who was the study’s lead author.
Ocean acidity, which impacts all kinds of marine life, appears to be increasing dramatically in the far north.
"The Pacific-Arctic region, because of its vulnerability to ocean acidification, gives us an early glimpse of how the global ocean will respond to increased human-caused carbon dioxide emissions, which are being absorbed by our ocean," said Jeremy Mathis, an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.
Lots of strange stuff.
© Jan TenBruggencate 2015