Fingers are pointing at the Chilean aquaculture industry as the worst red tide in that country’s history has caused massive die offs of bi-valves and vertebrates. Earlier this year an estimated 40 000 farmed salmon were killed when the micro-organisms that produce the toxin poisoned them.
The dead salmon were disposed of at sea, much to the chagrin of local fishermen.
The single celled plankton can reproduce rapidly when warm water and sufficient nutrients become available. They can reproduce rapidly and in sufficient numbers to colour the water a reddish hue. The toxin that they produce does not normally poison shellfish but because shellfish are filter feeders, they accumulate enough of the poison to kill animals with backbones.
his month an estimated 8 000 tons of dead sardines washed ashore. This die off has also included millions of the shellfish as well. Their shells are also washing ashore. Estimates of a 70% kill off the bivalves have been made. Thousands of dead cuttlefish have washed ashore.
Shellfish paralytic poisoning can kill humans that eat contaminated seafood.
The cause of the red-tide may not be the tons of farmed salmon dumped off shore. Some scientists attribute the massive kill off to the warmer ocean temperatures caused by the El Nino phenomenon. It is likely to be a combination of factors which include water temperature and available nutrients like rotting fish.
Red tides have been increasing in frequency in cooler waters as well. Off the coast of Vancouver Island, it used to be safe to harvest wild oysters in months that contained an “R” in their name. That is no longer the case as agricultural runoff and sewage disposal into coastal waters have provided ‘nutrients’.
Those people who have been able to make a good living fishing and collecting shellfish have been thrown out of business. The Chilean government has offered them the equivalent of USD 150 per month to survive. The enraged fisher folk marched on government offices.
Chile’s coastal waters have been hit with a series of big die offs recently. Last year over 300 dead whales washed ashore.
The El Nino phenomenon has been particularly strong this year. The waters of the Pacific Ocean have warmed more than usual. This has led to numerous weather disruptions around the globe.
More than 300 people have died in India due to heat related health problems. The State of Bihar has forbidden cooking fires between 9 am and 6 pm. The scorching temperatures are expected to last through May. Daytime temperatures hover in the mid-forties Celsius (113 F.)
Many of the deaths occur among the poor who may not have adequate water close by and lack electrical connections. Air conditioning is scarce among the shanty towns. Fans don’t cool at temperatures in the forties and serve to further dehydrate people.
Windy conditions have made the situation. The winds are blowing from the west across the hot interior sucking more moisture out of the air. Some areas have had deliveries of water, but many areas have received little aid.
Farmers have been particularly hard hit. The monsoon rains in 2015 which provide most of the year’s water, soaking into the soil and replenishing wells were scanty. And the drought continues.Thousands of farmers are reported to have committed suicide. Laws in India prevent the seizure of farms due to debts if the farmer dies.
At last count, more than 300 million people are suffering from drought in India.
The phenomenon known as El Nino is being blamed for the hot, dry conditions.
The warmer than usual Pacific Ocean affects weather around the globe. Parts of Canada had no real winter while central and eastern Canada suffered with cold.
Africa has been hit with drought conditions, especially in countries along the eastern edge of the continent. Estimates of up to 36 million people in Africa may need food aid due to drought and failed crops. South Africa has reported that 2015 was the driest year since written records were started in 1904.
The Horn of Africa including Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Djibouti is parched. The UN has warned that money must be found to feed tens of millions of people to prevent a catastrophe.
As our planet’s temperature rises, more disruptions to weather patterns can be expected. More extreme weather events are predicted to be the “new norm” displacing millions and causing widespread misery.
The weather Channel
Ethiopia has been hit with a devastating drought that has killed crops and livestock and dried up wells. This is the worst drought the farmers have faced since the 1980s when the combination of drought and fighting killed a million people.
Currently there are about 8.5 million people who are in need of emergency food supplies. The number is expected to swell to around 15 million by next year.
The UN is urging donor nations to give generously to avert a repeat of that tragedy. In spite of great need in many areas, they have received about $200 million. Estimates of need hover in the one billion dollar range.
The Ethiopian government is coping as best it can, but food reserves are meager. They are expected to be exhausted by year end.
The weather phenomenon known as El Nino(the Christ Child) because of its appearance close to the Christmas season is particularly strong this year. The past summer was very warm and has heated the Pacific Ocean to record temperatures. The vast ocean in turn influences weather around the world. Some areas will receive record breaking downpours and others no rain at all. The north of Africa is experiencing drought. Somalia is coping with flooding which has displaced upwards of 90 000 people.
The whole of the east coast of Africa is experiencing the effect of this year’s El Nino. Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa are coping with drought. Zimbabwe is expected to have 1.5 million people in immediate need of food aid.
Climate scientists have predicted that as the planet warms, old weather patterns will become disrupted. Some areas will receive more rain, others less. Some areas will experience warmer winters, others colder. But the trend is a higher global average. The polar regions have been showing some of the greatest increases in average temperature. Canada is experiencing current winter temperatures of 3 to 4 degrees Celsius this winter season.
Meteorologists are trying to figure out how the N. American weather patterns might shape up in the coming months. This fall into winter will see a strong El Nino effect from the warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean. The predictions are complicated and depend on how the body of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean along the British Columbia/Alaska coasts will interact with the warming influence from the south.
The effect of this weather phenomenon usually lasts through the winter months and dissipates in the spring.
The heating effect of the ocean is particularly pronounced this year. California’s waters are an average four degrees warmer than usual. When there is an El Nino effect California usually sees fierce rain storms. This has happened in some areas already, causing mudslides and highway disruptions.
While the coastal areas of N. America are predicted to have a milder winter than average because of the proximity of the warmer ocean waters, other areas may have colder than usual winter weather. El Nino can affect the jet stream – that circumpolar wind and weather phenomenon that may bring high pressure and Arctic temperatures to the continent.
The Weather Network is predicting a mild start to the winter but the eastern half of the continent will see a sharp drop in temperatures toward the end of the winter.
Predicting a season’s weather is increasingly difficult as the Earth warms.
Warmer ocean temperatures have significant effects on the creatures that live in and on the waters. A few of the changes are:
The Weather Network
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