After two years of very warm air and record-high water temperatures, Puget Sound is close to normal. Between the Blob warming our waters in 2015 and the past year of El Niño, we're still a bit warmer than usual, but we're in better shape than we've seen in some time.
See our 2016 in pictures report.
Learn about how the global climate affects water quality, see the impacts warmer waters had on the Sound, and compare photos from flights throughout 2016 in this year-end summary.
We had some major rains this year! They sent mud and runoff into our rivers, downstream, and out into the Sound. Two thousand sixteen began and ended with sediment dynamically painting our waters.
The very low summer river flows we experienced last year reflected climate predictions for the northwest. Our rivers are like a cold faucet: turned up high, their flow keeps waters cool, moving, and full of oxygen. With the river taps turned way down, marine waters don't get mixed as much, which causes warmer temperatures and higher salinities. As a result, we saw abundant jellyfish, floating macro-algae, and Noctiluca blooms.
Surprisingly, only South Puget Sound developed very low summer oxygen levels in 2016. By fall, La Niña came with a punch! This brought more rain and cool air temperatures. But the question remains: will this be an unusual La Niña?
What's Eyes Over Puget Sound?