Organic Material, Color Shifts Hinder Gulf Of Maine Productivity

By on May 31, 2016
gulf of maine

As part of a study funded by NASA, researchers at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences have been sampling the waters of the Gulf of Maine for the last 18 years. Over that time, they have noted that levels of dissolved organic carbon in rivers flowing into the gulf have been increasing. The nearby Gulf of St. Lawrence has also been adding more organic material.

Because of the influx of organic matter, scientists say that the primary productivity of the Gulf of Maine has been impacted. Much of that is due to the effects that the inflowing materials are having on the gulf’s color, shifting it from a healthy-looking blue to a tea-like brown.

This color change is likely affecting how marine plants in the gulf are growing. And the organic matter behind it also take in light that photosynthesizing organisms below need to make food.

Top image: Scientists used a Forel-Ule scope to determine if the Gulf of Maine has yellowed over the last century. (Credit: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences)

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