DC Isn’t The Only Place Heating Up These Days
It seems like every week there’s a new weather-related event affecting millions of people across the country, from floods and hurricanes to wildfires and droughts. Ocean and atmospheric scientists continue efforts to better understand if and how these individual extreme weather events are tied to our changing climate and how we can better prepare for and respond to them in the future. In the Arctic, climate and ocean conditions are changing rapidly, impacting all who live there — human and otherwise — as well as commercial sectors and international enterprises that seek to make the most of the opportunities of this evolving maritime region. According to satellite analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Arctic sea ice is at its lowest extent in recorded history for this time of year and may be on pace to break the 2012 minimal ice extent record this coming September. As we “melt” toward a periodically ice-free Arctic, there will be significant impacts on our Earth systems and related ocean security concerns.
The good news is that there continue to be many admirable efforts and venues to apply our growing understanding of Arctic change to ensure the region remains healthy and prosperous for all its inhabitants as changes unfold. Several of these efforts will be highlighted later this week at the 8th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, co-sponsored by one of our member organizations, the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC), and several other federal and private entities. This two-day event is open to the public and will address how diminished sea ice affects marine transportation; international, federal, state, and local operations; security; scientific research; infrastructure; investments; and policy. Learn more (including how to attend in-person and how to webcast it) here.
Many of our member institutions and organizations are deeply involved in Arctic research and monitoring, including several from Alaska. One of these is the University of Alaska Fairbanks, College of Fisheries and Ocean Science (CFOS), who is a world leader in this arena and operates the RV Sikuliaq, the only ice-capable U.S. research vessel devoted specifically to research in the region. As many colleges and universities face current and future fiscal challenges, we must all work diligently to ensure research and educational programs around ocean science and technology, to include Arctic ones, remain a top academic priority for our Arctic nation. If not, I fear a lack of science-based decision-making will lead to a future Arctic that is far from prosperous and sustainable for the precious life that is there, including human populations and all Arctic nations.
Massive Seaweed Bloom Affects Florida’s Beaches
A dark mass stretches from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s slowly growing and choking the life out of some marine animals. The mass is a giant seaweed bloom called the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt. Researchers at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science discovered the belt and the seasonal pattern of the blooms. The seaweed usually flares up in the summer months, with the worst blooms occurring in July and August.
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