Pacific Ocean Turns Pink Off California Coasts for Scientific Experiment

Scientists traveled to the California coasts to dye the Pacific Ocean pink for an experiment.

On January 20, Southern California’s San Diego beach experienced pink-tinged waves that provided an unusual sight for anyone strolling along the shore.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is experimenting there, and people there have noticed the waters at Torrey Pines State Beach and Natural Reserve, that, according to Scripps, resemble the color of Pepto Bismol.

Nontoxic Pink Dye

To study the interactions between the surf zone and freshwater from inland areas such as estuaries and rivers as it flows into the ocean, university researchers poured the nontoxic pink dye into the water.

In a statement published online, Scripps stated that it is collaborating with the University of Washington on the experiment, which will last through February.

Two more dye releases are planned for the end of January and the beginning of February after the initial release on January 20.

Limited data is known about how these plumes of fresher, lighter water respond to the denser, saltier, and frequently colder nearshore ocean environment, in particular as the plumes encounter breaking waves, the institution claims.

Rivers and estuaries discharge sediments and contaminants into the ocean.

The pink dye is being added by researchers to the freshwater in the estuary of the reserve, allowing them to monitor and study the water as it reaches the ocean.

Sarah Giddings, a Scripps coastal oceanographer leading the study, expressed her excitement because, as she stated, this study is a completely original experiment that has never been carried out before.

Her team will incorporate the outcomes of this experiment with data from an earlier field study and computer models to advance their understanding of how these plumes spread, according to The Press Democrat.

Monitoring Wave Dynamics

According to Scripps, using a variety of tools, including drones, sensors attached to poles in the sand in the river mouth and surf zone, and a jet ski fitted with a fluorometer, researchers are tracking the fluorescent pink dye from the land, sea, and sky.

Several moorings and sensors placed along the seafloor are monitoring conditions such as wave heights, salinity, tides, temperature, and ocean currents in addition to the breaking waves.

The researchers said in addition to offering a unique look at the buoyant plume and wave mixing dynamics at work in this specific location, the experiment will help us better understand how other small- to moderate-sized freshwater outflows interact with the waves at various locations around the world.

The findings of this study will offer vital information for estimating the amount of sediment, larvae, pollutants, and other significant material that is dispersed in the nearshore environment.

Also Read: Rogue Waves: What Makes These Extreme Storm Waves Dangerous and How to Detect Them 

Environmental Impacts

Giddings said that water that is trapped instead of entering the ocean has an adverse effect on the environment because anything that is carried in the water, such as pollutants, larvae, or sediment, will also become trapped in the water.

It might also be crucial for reducing pollution.

She stated that the National Science Foundation-funded study could be used to inform decisions about closing beaches after rain.

The team finds it easier to distinguish between estuary water and seawater by tinting it pink.

From there, they can track the freshwater leaving the estuary and follow it.

The team not only measures breaking waves, but also tides, salinity, temperature, and ocean currents.

Alex Simpson, the Scripps postdoc, looks forward to the days of their field experiment.

He is interested in learning how the interaction of physical forces-ocean waves competing with river discharges-determines what happens to estuary water as it joins the coastal ocean, Canada Today reported.

Related Article: Could Recent Cascadia Earthquakes in California Herald “The Big One,” Long Overdue Catastrophic Seismic Activity? 

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