Faculty member Emanuele Di Lorenzo in Nature Climate Change

8/16/2016

The Northeast Pacific’s largest marine heatwave on record was at least in part caused by El Niño climate patterns. And unusually warm water events in that ocean could potentially become more frequent with rising levels of greenhouse gases.

That’s the findings of a new study by researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They linked the 2014-2015 marine heatwave – often referred to as the “warm blob” –  to weather patterns that started in late 2013. The heatwave caused marine animals to stray far outside of their normal habitats, disrupting ecosystems and leading to massive die-offs of seabirds, whales and sea lions.

The study, which was published July 11 in journal Nature Climate Change, was sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

“We had two and a half years of consistent warming, which translated to a record harmful algal bloom in 2015 and prolonged stress on the ecosystem,” said Emanuele Di Lorenzo, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “What we do in the study is ask whether this type of activity is going to become more frequent with greenhouse gases rising.”

Excerpt from the Georgia Tech press release.

Additional Coverage:

Climate Central:  http://www.climatecentral.org/news/california-drought-heatwave-and-warming-20513

NOAA:  https://swfsc.noaa.gov/news.aspx?ParentMenuId=54&id=21991

Bio:

Dr. Emanuele (Manu) Di Lorenzo joined the Georgia Tech faculty in Fall 2004 after receiving his Ph.D. in Climate Sciences from University of California San Diego.  Manu has become among the leading physical oceanographers in the world.  His reputation has been established broadly in the areas of ocean and climate dynamics, regional and coastal oceanography, data assimilation and inverse modeling, ocean physical-biological interactions, and ocean-atmosphere coupled dynamics. While at Georgia Tech, Manu has been recognized for his contributions to teaching with the Class of 1964 Teaching Award and noted for his extensive external research funding supported by NSF, NASA, DOE and NPRB.

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