OCEAN ECOLOGY

Expanding toxic algal blooms

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Science  19 May 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6339, pp. 713-714
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6339.713-c

Higher sea surface temperatures are increasing algal blooms in northern oceans.

PHOTO: ORSOLYA HAARBERG/NPL/MINDEN PICTURES

Ocean temperatures in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans have increased in recent decades, particularly in coastal areas. This has been associated with increased algal blooms and, where these blooms include algal species that produce biotoxins, the potential for increases in cases of paralytic and diarrhetic shellfish poisoning. Gobler et al. used high-resolution records of sea surface temperature from 1982 to 2016 and temperature-dependent growth rates of two toxic algal species to create models of harmful algal blooms. These models were validated in areas of the North Atlantic by observations in other studies of increased bloom frequency and range that matched predicted locations. This information could potentially be used to predict the future spread of harmful algal blooms and the consequent impact on human health.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 114, 4975 (2017).

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