Problems with the ocean near the US coasts have been linked to the unusual climate we have seen lately across the country. Here are some stories that show different climate impacts on the sea.
ThinkProgress posted a story on Thursday about the huge toxic algal bloom that has forced the shut-down of fisheries along the West Coast. The last time such a large accumulation of algae was seen was 1988. Normally the blooms are most likely to occur in fall, but this year it has happened much earlier and is more widely spread than usual. Scientists think this may be due to the above-normal sea surface temperatures which have been observed along the West Coast for the last several months. This region of warmer than normal water was also linked to the persistent ridge of high pressure in the West and the complementary trough in the East that gave us our cold weather this past winter. You can read the story at https://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/06/18/3671377/pacific-ocean-massive-toxic-algal-bloom/.
KHOU in Houston TX quoted a Texas A&M oceanographer noting that the recent flooding in the southern and central Plains was leading to a huge influx of fresh water into the Gulf of Mexico. This fresh water is lighter than salt water and sits on top of the normal coastal water, stratifying it and keeping oxygen from getting to the deeper water. This is causing a large dead zone off the Texas coast due to the lack of oxygen for the plants and fish that normally thrive there. You can read the story here.
The dead zone farther to the east near the mouth of the Mississippi River is also expected to expand since the flood waters have washed more agricultural chemicals than usual out into the Gulf, causing algal growth that also sucks oxygen out of the water. An article in Eos this week notes that the eastern dead zone could reach the size of Connecticut.
Finally, Accuweather reported today that unusually warm water off the coast of Florida has led to the development of Vibrio vulnificus, a flesh-eating bacteria. So far eight cases of bacterial infection have been reported, including two that resulted in deaths of residents in Marion and Brevard Counties. Warmer than average temperatures in Florida in the past two months have contributed to the very warm water levels. The bacteria enter human bodies through open wounds or cuts and mainly affect immuno-compromised individuals. You can read that story here.