Mar 10, 2016

One Of The U.S.’s Top Salmon Providers Just Lost Millions Of Salmon

Aysén Province, XI Región
Natasha Geiling

As with Chile’s current algal bloom, scientists connected the West Coast algal bloom to unusually warm ocean temperatures fueled by the El Niño weather pattern. But scientists also warned that the algal bloom might be a window into the future, as climate change both increases ocean temperatures and increases the likelihood of strong El Niño patterns occurring.

“The conditions this year are sort of a window to the future, they’re a sign of things to come,” Vera Trainer, manager of the Marine Biotoxin Program at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, told ThinkProgress in June. “We want to know if that is indeed the case. Is this what we’re going to be seeing more of as our oceans continue to warm?”

Algal blooms are largely expected to get worse with climate change. Algae grows better in warm water, both because some species prefer warm water and because warmer waters are less prone to mixing, which encourages algal growth. Climate change is also expected to change rainfall patterns, making heavy precipitation events more likely. Those events, in turn, could lead to more nutrient run-off from farms, further encouraging algal blooms