El Nino and Algae in Chile

An unusually strong El Nino pattern this year is reportedly linked to a ‘deadly red tide’ in Chile.  The implication is that sea temperature anomalies are causing an algal bloom which renders fish and shell fish poisonous to eat.   Fishermen in Los Lagos are protesting that their government is not doing enough to mitigate the event.

MODIS Aqua imagery presented by NASA can be analysed for Chlorophyll concentration, see featured image above (chlorophyll by MODIS Aqua 26 Apr 16).  The oranges and reds indicate high chlorophyll level with blues lower.  Such analysis is only possible in cloud free skies.  Unfortunately the great southern ocean makes a ready supply of the white puffy stuff and I had to go back a couple of days to get a break in the canopy to get this image.

El Nino is one of the three stages in the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).  El Nino is a warm anomaly, La Nina is a cold anomaly and the third stage is neutral.

The National Weather Service sea surface temperature is included below for information.  Cold up welling along the coast of Chile is a usual part of the ocean circulation and brings nutrients which feed marine life.  A warm anomaly suppresses this effect and is bad news for communities reliant on the sea for food.  The warm anomaly along the coast of South America shows up in yellows and oranges.



China wants ships to use Arctic routes

This Reuters release caught my eye.  One economic benefit of climate change is the possibility of cheaper shipping routes between China and the Atlantic.  It is, perhaps, a small positive in an impending global disaster.

“China wants ships to use faster Arctic route opened by global warming.”

There are some problems though.  The Canadian section is claimed as ‘Internal Waters’ and the map shows why.

North West Passage

Sea ice still extends over these waters in winter but the National Snow and Ice Data Centre reports on 28 Mar 16, that ‘The Arctic sets yet another record low maximum extent” … of sea ice.  So this story will be a theme in Geopolitics in the future.

EOSDIS sourced imagery for 20 Apr 16 shows the area north of Alaska to be fast with sea ice at the moment, so no shipping possibilities on this route at the moment.  (Polar view, so north is towards the top right hand corner.)

Polar Sea Ice – MODIS via EOSDIS, 20 Apr 16



The same area, without sea ice overlay gives an impressive view of the ice flows even if the perspective of the polar regions makes a good featured image to this blog.