An article in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discusses the findings resulting from 14 years of monthly oceanographic observations in the southern Caribbean Sea. The results are a product of the CARIACO Ocean Time-Series Program, a joint venture involving institutions from the US and Venezuela and funded by the National Science Foundation. Its focus has been on the Cariaco Basin, just off the Venezuelan coast.
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What’s the Big Idea?
The findings show that the short- and long-term results of global climate change are just as devastating for the tropics as they are for other, cooler parts of the world. Ecosystem changes that led to the collapse of local sardine fisheries and the corresponding economic impact can be traced back to “declining upwelling of nutrient-rich waters caused by weakening Trade Winds in the region and an average sea surface warming of 1°C .” These in turn point back to the Earth’s energy budget and the effect of climatic shifts. It’s the first report of its kind to link tropical ocean and weather observations with global climate change.