You’ve likely heard of the massive 5,000-mile Sargassum seagrass belt that traces the Gulf of Mexico, but what, if any, effects will we get here along the Texas Gulf Coast?
ABC13 Chief Meteorologist Travis Herzog consulted with research scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanography and Meteorology Laboratory (AOML) and the University of South Florida (USF). The short answer is that we have not yet determined how much of that seaweed will make it to Texas shores.
See ABC News Report: Massive Sargassum seaweed bloom bound for Florida is a mystery to scientists
Two sources of Sargassum are found along the Texas coast, says Dr. Xuanmin Hu of USF.
The first is a local source in the Gulf Northwest that typically peaks along the Texas shores in April and May. You may remember in 2014 when we had a record amount of Sargassum Beach along the Texas coast around Memorial Day weekend.
The other source is what emerges from the Caribbean from the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, which typically peaks along Texas shores in the summer months.
It is difficult to predict exactly when and how much seaweed might wash ashore from this source because there is no direct current from the Caribbean Sea to the Texas coast.
The Gulf Stream flows primarily north from the Caribbean Sea into the Gulf and then turns east between Cuba and Florida.
Warm water eddies from the Gulf Stream often form in the center of the Gulf, break off from the main current, and drift toward Texas. These are the eddies that can contain Sargassum seaweed from the Caribbean.
So while we may finally get some of that seaweed this summer, it probably won’t be as much as it’s heading towards Florida.
Sargassum seaweed has recently invaded the tropical Atlantic Ocean, and has become a major recurring problem since 2011.
To find out, watch Travis’ explanation in the video above, which includes a new experimental map showing the current risks of Sargassum seagrass along the coasts of the Gulf, Caribbean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean.
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