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OCEANS, WATER, & LIFE: Human Imbalances Filled by Nature. With Seaweed...

OCEANS, WATER, & LIFE: Human Imbalances Filled by Nature. With Seaweed...

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 08 July 2019



Massive Sargassum Seaweed Bloom Grounding in Mexico
It's Hitting the Fan, Now...
Sargassum Seaweed Grounding, Cancun, March 20, 2015, by Michael Owen.
Cancun, March 20, 2015, by Michael Owen.


Human Imbalances Filled by Nature. With Vast Seaweed Blooms...

Scientists Discover the Biggest Seaweed Bloom in the World,
NASA Earth Observatory, July 8, 2019.

USF Article


“Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt.”
"...the belt of brown macroalgae called Sargassum can grow so large that it blankets the surface of the tropical Atlantic Ocean from the west coast of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. This happened in 2018 when more than 20 million tons of Sargassum—heavier than 200 fully loaded aircraft carriers—floated in surface waters and wreaked havoc on shorelines in the tropical Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico."

“The scale of these blooms is truly enormous."

Pre 2011
"Before 2011, most of the pelagic Sargassum in the ocean was primarily found floating in patches around the Gulf of Mexico and Sargasso Sea."

Post 2011
Brave New World
"In 2011, Sargassum populations started to explode in places they hadn’t been before, and it arrived in vast amounts that suffocated shorelines and introduced a nuisance for local environments and economies. Some countries, such as Barbados, declared a national emergency in 2018."

Massive Atlantic Saragossa Seaweed Blooms 2011-2018
 NASA & USF College of Marine Science.
"NASA’s satellite data (MODIS) confirms that the record-breaking seaweed belt forms in the summer months (northern hemisphere). 2015 and 2018 had the biggest of the massive blooms that started in 2011. Credit: USF College of Marine Science." Full Size Graphic.

What Happened?
Stupid Human Tricks
“The ocean’s chemistry must have changed in order for the blooms to get so out of hand.”

What It Does
"...too much of this seaweed makes it hard for certain marine species to move and breathe, especially when the mats crowd the coast. When Sargassum dies and sinks to the ocean bottom in large quantities, it can smother corals and seagrasses. On the beach, rotten Sargassum releases hydrogen sulfide gas and smells like rotten eggs."

"...analyzed fertilizer consumption patterns in Brazil, Amazon deforestation rates, Amazon River discharge, and nitrogen and phosphorus measurements taken from parts of the Atlantic Ocean, among other ocean properties."

"...the pattern seems clear: the explosion in Sargassum correlates to increases in deforestation and fertilizer use, both of which have increased since 2010."

Key Factors Critical to Bloom Formation
"...large seed population in the winter left over from a previous bloom..."

"...nutrient input from West Africa upwelling in winter..."

"...nutrient input in the spring or summer from the Amazon River."

"...major blooms occurred in every year between 2011 and 2018 except 2013. No bloom occurred that year because the seed populations measured during winter of 2012 were unusually low."

Here to Stay
“This is all ultimately related to climate change because it affects precipitation and ocean circulation and even human activities, but what we’ve shown is that these blooms do not occur because of increased water temperature.”

“They are probably here to stay.”


Bottom Line

The Ocean is transforming into its new phase of low fertility and low productivity that our activities have initiated. How many thousands of years this phase will last depends on how much longer we are able to sustain our, "activities."



Earlier Research

Ocean Heat & Chemistry

Mar 2019
Inevitable Southern Ocean Acidification Tipping Point Approaches

Feb 2019
Ocean Ecosystems Under Siege: Sea Star Decline Reverberates

Jan 2019
Oceans Warming Even Faster than Previously Thought

Jan 2019
Where Has All the Heat Gone? Into Changing the Circulation of the Deep Blue Sea...

Feb 2019
Big Changes Coming to Planetary Phytoplankton Distribution, & Colors of Oceans

Aug 2018
OCEANS, CHEMISTRY, & CLIMATE: Cooking Up a Toxic Brew




Summer & Fall 2019 Fish, Oceans, Ice, & Water News

News of Man & Nature, July 2019








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ocean news, human changes, Atlantic chemistry, ocean chemistry, massive, annual, seaweed, blooms


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