The ocean is a marvelous thing. While we do know more about it due extensive scientific research, there’s so much more to explore. The University of San Diego’s Oceanography department recently came up with a completely unique experiment. Something that had never been done before. They wanted to study how water from an estuary (where freshwater rivers meet the sea) effected the ocean when it hit the water. And that’s why we have pink waves hitting shorelines in San Diego, CA.
The ocean, which is much colder, denser and saltier, has not been studied in the areas where a river’s dense plumes of water interact with it. Particularly how the plumes will break up and spread out within the breaking waves. The dye used is environmentally safe and was used to track the estuary’s processes that take place when small-scale plumes of freshwater meet the surfzone. This experiment also helps them discover what happens to pollution when it hits the ocean after being carried down the river.
This study was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). They released the first pink dye test within Torrey Pines State Beach and Natural Reserve in San Diego on January 20th. Researchers intend to do a few more tests. One will be towards the end of January, and the other will happen sometime in February. It would be interesting to see if the results would change during the warmer months in California since it has been colder than usual this winter season.
“I’m excited because this research hasn’t been done before and it’s a really unique experiment,” Scripps coastal oceanographer Sarah Giddings, lead of the PiNC study, said. “We’re bringing together a lot of different people with different expertise, such that I think it’s going to have some really great results and impacts. We will combine results from this experiment with an older field study and computer models that will allow us to make progress on understanding how these plumes spread.”
While the pink waves aren’t a natural phenomenon like bioluminescence, it’s still pretty to look at.