Tampa, Fla. (WFLA) — Marine scientists are tracking an enormous 5,000-mile-wide seaweed flower that can be seen from space.
These sargassum flowers are not new, scientists say This could be the largest ever.In the last confirmation, I was heading to Florida”Gulf.
Thick mats of algae drift between the Atlantic coast of Africa and the Gulf of Mexico, providing habitat for marine life and soaking up carbon dioxide, but they can also wreak havoc when they get close to shore. and adversely affect air and water quality as it decomposes.
Florida’s Gulf Coast is already grappling with algae blooming amid the busy spring break tourist season. increase. canceled event drove away the bathers.
With a cover of sargassum twice the width of the continental United States approaching, scientists warn Florida beaches could soon be flooded with seaweed.
“It’s incredible,” said Brian Lapointe, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University. Harbor Branch Marine Research Institute Said NBC News“What we’re seeing in satellite imagery doesn’t bode well for a clean beach year.”
LaPointe, who has studied flowers for decades, said beaches in the Florida Keys have already been affected. Part of Mexico was told to prepare Up to 3 feet of sargassum are piled up on the shore.
The brown clumps of vegetation may not be visually appealing, but their impact on humans doesn’t end there.
“Even in coastal waters, it can block intake valves such as power plants and desalination plants, completely flooding marinas and rendering boats unnavigable,” said an assistant research professor at South University. One Brian Burns said:Florida College of Marine Science said NBC News“It can really threaten critical infrastructure.”
Rotting sargassum releases hydrogen sulfide, which can cause respiratory problems for tourists, residents and people working on the water, Lapointe said. NBC News.
“After the big bloom in 2018, doctors in Martinique and Guadeloupe reported that the air coming out of these rotten sargassum piles caused thousands of people to go to clinics with difficulty breathing.” said LaPointe.
Barnes and his colleagues USF’s Optical Ocean Laboratory Track sargassum flowers. Seaweed blankets seem to grow every year, but the biggest blooms occurred in 2018 and 2022, he said.
“Historically, sargassum has been part of the ecosystem for as long as we have records, but it’s much larger now,” Barnes said. NBC News“What seemed like a blast five years ago is no longer temporary.”
Scientists have found that climate change is causing ocean temperatures to rise, creating a more ideal environment for algae to thrive. Nitrates from nutrients are pumped into the sea to nourish flowering.
Sargassum rafts typically congregate in the Sargassum Sea region of the North Atlantic. From there, the Gulf Stream pushes the algae around the Atlantic basin, allowing them to spread and grow in different areas.
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