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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999

FROM VOLUME 12, NUMBER 1, JANUARY 1999

NEWS...
Pacific Oceanology


Item #d99jan41

In a Jan. 29, 1999, article, “Ocean Changes Worry, Perplex Experts,” the Daily Journal of Commerce cited changes in plankton species, dieoffs of seabirds, immigrations by burrowing crabs, and diversions farther out to sea of gray- whale migrations as indications that the North Pacific Ocean is warming along the coast. It quotes Robert Pitkin, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as saying that El Niño, which pushes warm ocean water up from the south, is not to blame for the changes. Rather, he feels, the slackening of northwest winds in the summer is. Summer winds normally cool the surface of the ocean, leading to upwelling of nutrient-rich water from the depths. The slackening of the winds, he says, has decreased the upwelling and the provision of nutrients to the food chain. The phenomenon could have economic ramifications because the Bering provides about half the fish and shellfish caught in the United States. However, researchers are uncertain of what to make of the changes, whether they reflect natural cycles that will eventually reverse, or what the causes are.

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