March 30, 2023

Scientists leave pink sea water on an American beach; I know why

Posted: 1/27/2023 5:02 PM / Updated 1/27/2023 5:07 PM

(Credit: Eric Jepsen/UC San Diego)

Those who visit the beach in San Diego, California, will come across the pink waters of the sea. That’s because in January and February, the researchers ran an experiment using dye to study how small flows of fresh water interact with ocean waves. The colorant is environmentally safe and allows traceability of reaction processes.

“Rivers and estuaries play an important role in transporting freshwater and materials such as sediment and pollutants to the coastal ocean, but little is known about how these freshwater and more buoyant plumes interact with the denser, saltier, cooler and often colder environment of the coastal ocean, especially When the pillars encounter breaking waves,” he explains Scripps Institution of Oceanographyin the current situation.

To track the path of small water streams, researchers use drones, sensors mounted on poles, and a jet ski equipped with a fluorometer (a device that measures fluorescence, or light, emitted by a pigment). With the experiment, wave height, tides, salinity and temperature were also measured.

“I’m excited because this research hasn’t been done before and it’s a really unique experiment. We’re bringing together a lot of different people from different backgrounds, so I think we’re going to get really cool results and effects. We’re going to combine the results of this experiment with an old field study and computer models that allow us to progress in understanding how these plumes spread,” Oceanographer and research leader Sarah Giddings.

The experience is centered on Lagoa Los Penasquitos, with this location being one of the prime examples where small streams flow into the wave zone, also called the wave zone. The researchers hope the findings will provide data to help determine the prevalence of sediment, pollutants, larvae, and other materials in the coastal environment.

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  • The experience is environmentally safe
    Playback / Eric Jepsen / University of California, San Diego

  • The experience is environmentally safe
    Playback / Eric Jepsen / University of California, San Diego

  • The dye is environmentally safe
    Playback / Eric Jepsen / University of California, San Diego

“Los Peñasquitos Lagoon is a very dynamic system, with different elements changing every day, often even throughout the day. I am looking forward to seeing how the balance of physical forces – ocean waves competing with river flow – determine the fate of estuary waters when they enter the coastal ocean in the days I’m very excited to fly a new type of unmanned aircraft system with a camera that has nearly 100 times the ability to discern the visible light spectrum compared to a phone’s camera,” said Alex Simpson, a Scripps postdoctoral fellow.

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