Mysterious white clouds keep appearing near the Bahamas, and no one knows why: ScienceAlert

The piece of ocean wedged between Florida and the Bahamas is among the most well-studied marine environments on the earth, but it is also the middle of an everlasting geological puzzle.

Since a minimum of the Nineteen Thirties, scientists within the space have seen unusual white clouds rising up within the calm floor of the turquoise water.

This unusual phenomenon is named the “albedo occasion,” and scientists nonetheless do not perceive why it occurred within the Bahamas.

It has develop into a form of “white whale” for researchers on the close by College of South Florida (USF).

Bahamas Whitening Events
Satellite tv for pc pictures from 2015 of spawning occasions within the Bahamas. (NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens, utilizing USGS knowledge)

Mysterious patches of light-colored ocean are typically seen in different oceans and lakes around the globe, however within the Bahamas, they seem extra typically than typical.

Direct sampling of cloudy water signifies that it comprises excessive concentrations of carbonate-rich particles.

A lot of the Bahamas archipelago lies on a submerged carbonate platform often known as the Bahamas Banks. Does this imply that sediment is rising to the floor? Or may or not it’s that phytoplankton blooms truly produce the suspended matter?

Nobody is aware of the reply to those questions, however scientists on the College of South Florida are decided to seek out out. They used satellite tv for pc imagery from NASA to indicate how albedo occasions ebb and circulate within the Bahamas.

The staff does not know if the traits they recognized are pure or man-made, however what they do know is that from 2003 to 2020, the magnitude of those albedo occasions gave the impression to be associated to the seasons.

The most important spots occurred from March to Could and from October to December. On common, the white spots have been about 2.4 sq. kilometers per piece. On a clear-sky day, satellite tv for pc pictures usually seize about 24 pictures, protecting a complete space of ​​32 sq. kilometers (12 sq. miles).

Nevertheless, between 2011 and 2015, the patches abruptly swelled in measurement, protecting greater than 200 sq. kilometers (77 sq. miles) of ocean at their peak. Nevertheless, by 2019, the spots had shrunk once more, although by no means fairly as small as they as soon as have been.

The outcomes recommend {that a} 10-year cycle might play a job. However a cycle of what precisely?

“I want I may inform you why we have seen the height of exercise, however we’re not there but,” Says USF oceanographer Chuanmin Hu.

“We’re already seeing some attention-grabbing relationships between environmental situations, corresponding to pH and salinity and the habits of winds and currents, however we won’t but pinpoint the precise mechanical, organic or chemical processes liable for these peaks in exercise.”

Extra direct subject trials are wanted, and never simply within the Bahamas. Evaluating spawning occasions in different areas might help scientists see what widespread options they share.

The College of South Florida researchers examined their mannequin on spawning occasions in Nice lakes With preliminary success, however now these patterns should be supported on land, or quite, in water.

Some researchfor instance, confirmed that albedo occasions happen extra in locations with muddy sediments.

As well as, it might be that some ocean situations favor the suspension of sediment and calcium carbonate within the water column. As talked about earlier, latest satellite tv for pc knowledge signifies that white spots within the Bahamas are most typical within the spring and winter, which is when the Florida currents that run from north to south shift.

With out additional proof, all of those theories will stay that approach.

The research has been printed in Distant setting sensing.

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