The UK’s seaside towns are facing the possibility of an invasion of toxic seaweed from the USA.
Tonnes of rotting seaweed are believed to be on their way to the UK’s coastline after causing chaos for towns in the USA.
Known as sargassum, the controversial seaweed has been seen from miles away as it slowly makes its way across the Atlantic Ocean.
The seaweed can be disastrous for local communities as it threatens fishing and the public’s health due to the fumes it emits.
Experts have said the seaweed could become prolific and threaten seaside towns in the European Union as well.
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According to reports, tourist hotspots in Portugal and the Canary Islands are on alert.
One expert said the oncoming crisis could be affected by climate change.
Professor of Oceanography and Climate at the University of Southampton Robert Marsh told the Mirror about what the future holds for this toxic seaweed.
He said: “Sargassum is very sensitive to temperature – it grows vigorously in warm tropical waters but starts to die when the water temperature exceeds about 29C.”
Professor Marsh added: “With oceans predicted to be 1.5 degrees warmer within the next 30 years, by 2050 it might be too hot for sargassum to survive summer in the tropics.
“However, we predict it will be more prevalent earlier in the year and will spread poleward from the tropical Atlantic belt.
“Carried across the Atlantic by ocean currents, we could even see it washing up on the beaches of the Canary Islands and Portugal, for example.
“What’s happening is a natural response to recent climate oscillations but it is likely being accelerated by climate change.”
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Professor Marsh added that while some said sargassum could take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere that this was not a “realistic expectation”.
Professor Marsh’s team has been working with several universities from around the world to try and understand sargassum and help seaside towns manage it.
He said: “There is a need for international collaboration to research and understand it, and to help manage it when it washes ashore.”
The invasion of sargassum is the latest in a line summer crisis affecting Europe as extreme temperatures causing a series of record-breaking heatwaves which have destroyed homes and forced thousands to evacuate.
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