Marine heat wave could be catastrophic for Oregon's ecosystems

A similar heat wave five years ago disrupted salmon returns and had other far-reaching impacts on our wildlife, scientists say.

Posted: Sep 6, 2019 4:58 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Pacific Ocean is experiencing a heat wave, and it could be catastrophic for our ecosystems, scientists say.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report on Thursday, saying the temperature of the ocean is 5 degrees above average. They call it a “marine heat wave.”

Michael Milstein, who works with NOAA, said in June scientists noticed a large portion of the Pacific Ocean off the Oregon Coast had gotten warmer.

Five years ago, scientists said a similar “blob” of warm water disrupted the ecosystem on the West Coast and severely impacted the return of salmon in Oregon.

“We saw salmon not surviving as well, and we are still seeing some of the results of that in terms of the salmon returns in the last couple years,” Milstein said.

He said with sea lions not getting enough to eat, their pups were stranding themselves on beaches. Milstein also said we are still feeling the effects of that phenomenon.

And now scientists said they’re noticing the same warming trends in the same area.

The cause of this heat wave is not clear, but Milstein said scientists do have leads.

“What we think is happening is that area in the atmosphere is basically reducing the winds that typically blow across the ocean that mix it up and cool the ocean that way,” Milstein said.

Scientists with NOAA and Oregon State University said the future is unclear, and we will have to wait and see.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30342

Reported Deaths: 521
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah6743129
Marion438789
Washington424158
Umatilla289541
Clackamas222661
Malheur149023
Jackson10213
Lane93314
Deschutes74612
Yamhill72614
Jefferson5058
Polk49315
Morrow4845
Lincoln47013
Linn45413
Union4352
Klamath2692
Benton2516
Hood River2410
Wasco2333
Douglas2003
Josephine1802
Columbia1481
Coos1360
Clatsop1090
Baker902
Crook601
Tillamook480
Lake290
Wallowa281
Curry260
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant80
Gilliam70
Unassigned00
Wheeler00
Eugene
Broken Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 63°
Corvallis
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 63°
Roseburg
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 67°
North Bend
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 58°
KEZI Radar
KEZI Temperatures
KEZI Planner

LATEST FORECAST

Community Events