A Complex, Changing Pacific Ocean Environment

Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron pic

Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron
Image: nytimes.com

A longtime computer systems engineer, Amita Vadlamudi provided support for mainframe and Unix systems. Amita Vadlamudi has a longstanding interest in the environment and the way in which diverse ecosystems operate. A recent New York Times report titled “The Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron” explored various factors, including El Nino, that are impacting the world’s largest body of water.

The powerful equatorial El Nino weather system is causing a warming of the ocean’s surface, which in turn releases heat into the atmosphere. For many in drought-impacted California, this is a positive force, as it unleashes much-needed rainfall and snow. A longer-term force at work is the Pacific decadal oscillation, which spans decades of warmer or colder water. The fact that the oscillation has been in a cool state since 2000 has mitigated the effects of heat that greenhouse gases generate, as part of global warming.

Most immediately worrisome is “The Blob,” a persistent zone of warm water off the Western US coast that is nutrient poor and which scientists do not fully understand. This has affected species such as sea lions and fur seals, and brought tropical sunfish as far north as Alaska.


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