Whiting Event: Mysterious White Clouds Keep Appearing in Waters Between Florida and the Bahamas
White events or white clouds that appear from the bottom of a body of water like lakes and oceans have puzzled scientists for several decades. One of these strange phenomena occur in the waters between Florida and Bahamas. Scientists are trying to determine if the cause of the event is biological or geochemical, but could it be something else?
Mysterious White Clouds
(Photo : Photo by QUANG DUC/AFP via Getty Images)
Since the 1930s, scientists have noticed the strange white clouds that kept appearing into the water’s surface near the Bahamas, and this has become a rich area for study by the University of Florida (USF), according to Science Alert.
In a study published in the Remote Sensing of Environment, researchers are determining on whether the white clouds are caused by rising sediments to the surface or blooms of phytoplankton are producing the material. However, the team USF team used satellite images from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The team are uncertain if the trends are natural or human-caused, but they have determined that from 200 to 2020, the size of the whiting events correlate with particular seasons. The largest patches of white clouds transpire from March to May and October to December.
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What is a Whiting Event?
Scientists have analyzed satellite imagery spanning for more than a decade to further understand the reason why mysterious patches of light-colored water emerge along Florida’s Gulf Coast, according to the Earth Observatory of NASA.
During an aerial survey in April 2012, scientist Lisa Robbins from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) captured an image of blemished coverings of light blue water along Florida’s southwest coast. The USGS says that while phytoplankton blooms and sediment moved by winds sometimes cover the shallow waters in the region, the strange white clouds phenomenon is something different.
It turned out that Robbins photographed a whiting event, a discoloring of the water due to particles of “calcium carbonate” floating in the water. The phenomenon occurs in both oceans and lakes, although the edges of whiting events can be sharper in the ocean, the US seismic agency explains.
Whiting events also occur in other parts of the world, where scientists have investigated related phenomenon near the Bahamas, the Great Lakes in the US, the Persian Gulf in the Middle East, Lake Kivu in central Africa, and Fayetteville in New York.
However, the 2012 documentation was the first time that researchers confirmed a whiting event in Southwest Florida. Under these circumstances, little was known about their nature, frequency, coverage, and causes.
White Events Documentation
The USGS stated that whiting events or spontaneous calcium carbonate precipitation in open waters of lakes are well-documented, but remains poorly understood. This means that scientists have already observed and analyzed the said phenomenon but are unable to decipher the specific biological, geochemical, or physical characteristics of it.
In June 1999, the USGS presented to the American Geophysical Union (AGU) spring meeting about its findings about aragonite whiting events led by Anthony Hoch and Michael Ready. In August 1997, the USGS researchers went to Pyramid Lake, where they conducted nucleation experiments.
The result supported the theory that white clouds were caused by phytoplankton and/or particulates that enhance whiting events in Pyramid Lake. This comes as the team noticed blue-green algae (Nodularia spumigena) in the lake.
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