It is the piece of ocean sandwiched between Florida andBahamas One of the most well-studied marine environments in the world, yet it is also the center of an enduring geological puzzle. Since at least the 1930s, scientists in the area have observed eerie white clouds rising from the calm surface of the turquoise water.
According to RT, this strange phenomenon is called the “whitening event”, and scientists still do not understand why it occurred in the Bahamas.
Mysterious spots of light color are sometimes observed in oceans and lakes Others are found throughout the world, but in the Bahamas, they appear more frequently, and direct sampling indicates that they contain high concentrations of carbonate-rich particulate matter.
Much of the Bahamas archipelago sits on a submerged carbonate platform known as the Bahamas Banks. Does this mean that sediment is rising to the surface? Or could it be that phytoplankton blooms are actually producing suspended matter?
No one knows the answer to these questions, but scientists at the University of South Florida are determined to find out. They’ve used satellite imagery from NASA to show how albedo events ebb and flow in the Bahamas.
The team doesn’t know if the trends they identified are natural or man-made, but what they do know is that from 2003 to 2020, the magnitude of these whitening events seemed to be related to the seasons.
The largest spots occurred from March to May and from October to December. On average, the white spots were about 2.4 square kilometers per piece. On a clear-sky day, satellite images usually capture about two dozen images, covering a total area of 32 square kilometers (12 square miles).
However, between 2011 and 2015, the patches suddenly swelled in size, covering more than 200 square kilometers (77 square miles) of ocean at their peak. However, by 2019, the spots had shrunk again, although they were never as small as they used to be.
The results suggest that a 10-year cycle may play a role. But a course of what exactly?
“I wish I could tell you why we’ve seen this peak in activity, but we’re not there yet,” says USF oceanographer Chuanmin Ho. “We already see some interesting relationships between environmental conditions, such as pH and salinity and the behavior of winds and currents, but we can’t even Now identify the exact mechanical, biological or chemical processes responsible for that peak in activity.”
More direct field experiments are needed, and not just in the Bahamas, and comparing spawning events in other regions can help scientists see what common features they share.
The USF researchers tested their model on white events in the Great Lakes with initial success, but now they need to support those patterns on land, or rather, in water.
Some studies have shown, for example, that albedo events occur more often in places with muddy sediment, and in addition, it could be that some ocean conditions favor the suspension of sediment and calcium carbonate in the water column.