Ever thought melting glaciers on the Himalayas can be linked to the algal boom in oceans, well, there is a connection here, and we were surprised too.
The Himalayas affects the climate of the Indian subcontinent in a major way and has a major role in sort of ‘fertilizing’ the Arabian ocean, as the cold winds from the Himalayas lead to the cooling of the upper surface of the water, which then sinks deeper due to a higher density and allows fresh nutrient-rich water to come to the surface.
But now, since the global temperature is rising, winter monsoons have become more humid and less oxygen-rich, this allows microbes that can survive in oxygen-depleted regions to grow two folds, leading to excessive algal blooms.
This growth has become so severe now that the green patches can now be seen from space. This particular species known as Noctiluca Scintillans – is well known for its bioluminescent effect and is a millimeter-long aquatic dinoflagellate that can endure and flourish without oxygen or sunlight.
Noctiluca blooms in the Arabian Sea, as seen from space. (Norman Kuring/NASA)
Massive algal blooms cause problems to the surrounding ecosystem as well, the nearby industries. And now researchers from Columbia University in the U.S have established a direct link between global climate change and these algal blooms, which were no found in these areas before three decades ago.
Since the winter monsoons have become more humid, and the net heat flux of the upper layer of water has increased, it has led to lower levels of oxygen and nutrients in the water, which is a boon for these algae but a massive disadvantage from other nutrient-dependent organisms like diatoms and zooplankton.
This algal bloom has an adverse effect as it harms the water quality and leads to a lot of fish mortality.
The algae can even hold up a lot of ammonia, making it poisonous.
The researchers fear that these blooms will only grow, and could be increasingly detrimental to regions like Somalia and Vietnam, leading to a loss in fisheries. It remains to be seen how the effect is own other regions as well, with the increasing global temperatures and melting of glaciers.