From: Stony Brook University
Published April 25, 2017 07:15 AM

Global Warming Making Oceans More Toxic, Research Shows

Ocean warming since the 1980s is linked to the spread of toxic algae, according to a newly published study led by Dr. Christopher Gobler, marine science professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook University.

Climate change is predicted to cause a series of maladies for world oceans including heating up, acidification, and the loss of oxygen.  The study, published online in the April 24 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and entitled, “Ocean warming since 1982 has expanded the niche of toxic algal blooms in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans,” demonstrates that one ocean consequence of climate change that has already occurred is the spread and intensification of toxic algae.

A team of scientists led Dr. Gobler used high-resolution ocean temperature data along with the growth response of two of the most toxic algae in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans called Alexandrium and Dinophysis. Their study demonstrates that since 1982, broad stretches of these ocean basins have warmed and become significantly more hospitable to these algae and that new ‘blooms’ of these algae have become common in these same regions. Alexandriumand Dinophysis present serious health concerns as they make neurotoxins and gastrointestinal toxins that can cause paralytic and diarrhetic shellfish poisoning in humans.

“Toxic or harmful algal blooms are not a new phenomenon, although many people may know them by other names such as red tides,” said Gobler. “These events can sicken or kill people who consume toxin-contaminated shellfish and can damage marine ecosystems by killing fish and other marine life.”

Continue reading at Stony Brook University. 

NASA satellite imagery from 2015 shows massive algal bloom in the Atlantic Ocean via Stony Brook University.

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