Sea life's importance to the climate

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:45 PM GMT on May 29, 2007

Share this Blog
2
+

Does the marine biosphere mix the ocean? A group of oceanographers led by W.K. Dewar of Florida State University argue that the swimming action of fish and other marine organisms may play a critical role in driving ocean currents. If true, large-scale over-fishing or the collapse of the marine food chain due to pollution or ocean acidification may cause significant changes in ocean currents--and Earth's climate.


Figure 1. Rainbow made From a sperm whale using his blowhole. Image taken June 17, 2006 in Kaikora, New Zealand by wunderphotographer jhfelder.

The Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) or Thermohaline Circulation is a well-known feature of the ocean circulation. In the Atlantic, the Gulf Stream current forms a portion of the MOC. Gulf Stream waters flow to the region near Greenland, where an input of fresh, denser water from melting ice and river run-off creates a downward flow of water that then moves southward along the ocean bottom towards the Equator. This deep water eventually returns to the surface in the mid-Atlantic to complete a cell of the MOC. Scientists have long thought that the energy needed to drive the MOC came from winds and tides--about two terrawatts of energy (Munk and Wunsch, 1998). However, Dewar et al. show that the mechanical energy added to the ocean by the swimming action of whales is about 1% of this total, and the swimming action of other marine organisms (primarily zooplankton) adds up to 50% of this total--one terrawatt of energy. While the authors admit that their calculations may have large errors, this research shows that marine life may have a heretofore unappreciated large impact on Earth's climate. Our climate is intimately connected to the sun, life on land, life in the ocean, and human activities in an incredibly complex web of interconnections. It is our challenge to understand this system, even as we change it and it changes of its own accord.

My next blog will be Thursday afternoon, when the new Dr. Bill Gray/Phil Klotzbach Atlantic hurricane season forecast will be released.

Jeff Masters

Dewar, W.K., R.J. Bingham, R.L. Iverson, D.P. Nowacek, L.C. St. Laurent, and P.H. Wiebe, 2006, "Does the marine biosphere mix the ocean?", Journal of Marine Research, 64, 541-561.

Munk, W., and C. Wunsch, 1998, "Abyssal recipes II: Energetics of tidal and wind mixing", Deep-Sea Res., 45, 1976-2009.

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 671 - 621

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26Blog Index

671. nash28
5:01 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
12z run of the CMC is out.

Link
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
670. moonlightcowboy
5:00 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
...good point JP, are we indeed talking about "two" different areas?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
669. nash28
4:58 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Afternoon JP. Great point on which Low the models were referring to.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
667. southbeachdude
4:53 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
good point jp...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
665. southbeachdude
4:50 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I think you hit the nail on the head Adrian. Too much wind sheer. Looks like we will get some good afternoon showers this weekend!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
664. hurricane23
12:49 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
You can clearly see the fast upper level winds moving threw the GOM which in my opinion will not allow for anything to develope.Not much in the way of organzation right now down there as things are being inhanced by the jet to its north.Looks like much needed tropical moisture for florida if you ask me but thats about it.

If development took place it will more than likely not be tropical in a nature.Adrian
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13839
663. groundman
4:41 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I thought I saw rotation also but was afraid to say so homegirl.

Thanks for the link cajunkid, that is COOL.

The durn thing is doing something, what I'm not sure but it's giving us something to watch @ least.
662. StormJunkie
4:41 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
obsessed, you can find the navy site from here. The NRL imagery site is what most use, but you can also find the METOC site form there as well. The parent site for that link that cajun just posted can be found there also.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
660. homegirl
4:33 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Definately see some rotation off the NE tip of the Yucatan, mid level? Plenty of shear impeding organization.
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 7425
659. MichaelSTL
11:36 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: Inyo at 10:28 AM CDT on May 30, 2007.

Only twice before...in 1956 and 1984...have there been two
eastern North Pacific named storms in may.

Where is La Nina? I think it is hiding where El Nino hid last winter... the driest in 100 years in parts of California.

Weird. ENSO is broken!


1956 and 1984 were La Nina years (1984 was only officially La Nina at the start and end but was cool all year)

Also, anything can happen:

The 1973 Pacific hurricane season officially started May 15, 1973 in the eastern Pacific, and June 1, 1973 in the central Pacific, and lasted until November 30, 1973. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the northeastern Pacific Ocean.

This season had a quick start but a slow end. Overall activity was below average, with twelve named systems in total. Of these, five were tropical storms, four were hurricanes, and three were major (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale). The reason for the low activity is a strong and long La Niņa that started building early in this year. Just one storm formed in August, one of the least active Augusts ever in the east Pacific.

Hurricane Ava
A tropical depression formed on June 2. It steadily strengthened and headed in a generally westerly direction. It moved slowly and became Hurricane Ava on June 4. Two days later, it became a major hurricane and it sped up. On June 7, it became a Category 5 hurricane. It then started weakening and slowed down until it dissipated on June 12.

Ava's minimum central pressure was 915 millibars, and its winds reached a phenomenal 140 knots. This made Ava the most intense recorded east Pacific hurricane at the time. Ava reached Category 5 intensity on June 7, the earliest date in an east Pacific season that a hurricane has done so. It was also the third known Category 5 storm in the east Pacific; (behind two storms in 1959). Ava is the strongest June storm, the third most intense east Pacific hurricane, and the only June Category 5. It is also somewhat remarkable as it reached Category 5 intensity during a La Niņa year, the only known east Pacific hurricane to do so.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
658. cajunkid
11:23 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
Link
click on an area you want to zoom in on and get the X,Y values. Then go back to the main page and enter them, check the animation circle and how many frames you want. ITS GREAT!
I would post a zoomed loop of the invest, but it wont let me the (invest is X=255,Y=333)

enjoy
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
657. DocBen
4:28 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Hang in there weatherbrat - we may fight like cats and dogs here from time to time but I think we are all together on wishing you well.
Member Since: May 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 98
656. bethie
4:16 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
The FL panhandle/big bend area is in dire need of moisture. Started the "rain dance" a few weeks ago. Now I fear the next water bill. Geezzz...
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 5
655. franck
4:18 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
solar winds to polar winds, caught and bought...me master...he blaster...protecting, but drying.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
654. IKE
11:19 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: weatherbrat at 11:15 AM CDT on May 30, 2007.
Thanks Ike. I'm terminal..43F...but a strong fighter!!


Bless your heart...I've had kidney failure problems...was on Peritoneal Dialysis...but my kidneys have come back. God has blessed me.

Hope God blesses you too.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
653. BoyntonBeach
4:19 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Good Luck weatherbrat. My wife is in Chemo as well..not much fun. At least i'm in the red on that "rain potential" image !
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
652. kmanislander
4:19 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Navy site

Link
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15845
651. obsessedwweather
4:18 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
What's the Navy website for tropical weather?
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 321
650. franck
4:16 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
GS...yes, polar origin...shearing winds...present...regenerating...blowing...drying...protecting...the lizard.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
648. weatherbrat
4:15 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Thanks Ike. I'm terminal..43F...but a strong fighter!!

I think everyone agrees, all of Florida and the SE could use some soaking rains!

647. bethie
4:13 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Hello Fellow Tropical Weather Followers...
Hurricane season is again upon us.
Fasten your seatbelts, I've got a gut feeling that this years gulf tropical season will be an active one.
I chuckle once again at the GulfScotsman humor.
There is much to be said for the INVEST(ment) of a good haircut / style.
It's good to be back... bethie
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 5
646. IKE
4:11 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Good luck on your chemo...latest GFS 12UTC...has the rain crossing south Florida only.

Slight difference between the NAM and the GFS.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
645. weatherbrat
4:09 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I'm heading in for my chemo treatment, but wanted to give you an update on my weather. I'm in Pensacola and it's been a moderate to heavy rain all morning. What a blessed relief!! All bush fires be gone! Although north Escambia County is not seeing any rain as of yet. It will be heading your way this afternoon. I'm looking forward to the updated GFS model showing a low heading our direction in 84-120 hrs. Hope it's full of more rain!! I'd like to see my water bill go down! Ya'll have a nice day!
644. whirlwind
4:06 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Its Wilma's sister in the Carrib.

How come the East Pacific has all the fun??!@@
I think I see an eye forming!!
642. RL3AO
3:58 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
With what the NHC has shown us with the first three storms is that it clearly has to be a depression for at least 6 hours before they will call it. So I'm not expecting much but rain out of this anyway. Not that it being a depression would change the impact.
641. IKE
3:55 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Not true...the latest NAM has it as a 1004mb low in 84 hours headed for north/NE Florida.

I see a spin north of the Yucatan on visible loop.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
640. HurricaneFCast
3:56 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
SSD Just labeled our "Caribbean blob" an invest, which means they believe it has the potential to develop. It's rather close to land right now but it has deep convection. However, it does not have a very well-defined circulation. I would like to point out that, currently, the CMC is the only Forecast Model predicting development of this system. At most, Southern Florida or Central Florida will get some much needed rain out of this.

Forum Giant-Newly Updated
Member Since: April 20, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 1482
639. IKE
3:56 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Looks like rain for the entire state of Florida according to the 12UTC NAM...even here in the panhandle! Great news! Now if it will just happen...although it's raining here now...latest NAM...Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
638. kmanislander
3:55 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Doc, not much. Don't see anything here worth worrying over. Looks like an outflow boundary on the North side
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15845
637. hurricane23
3:53 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Thats right SJ and its currently being inhanced by the jet a tad to its north but forcast models are saying windshear may weaken some and may allow for some slight devlopment.No matter what rain looks like for florida which is a great news.Adrian
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13839
636. HurricaneFCast
3:52 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
There is no well-defined circulation with this "Invest" but at least the SSD its taking interest, which proves it has the potential to bring some much needed rain to Florida. I would like to point out, however, that most of the models point to Tropical Storm formation AFTER it passes through Florida.
Member Since: April 20, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 1482
635. kmanislander
3:52 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Could it be that the rain shield we are seeing is the convection sheared off to the east from the swirl seen in the Bay of Campeche ?
Whatever spin there is may well be in the mid or upper levels hence no QS indication of it
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15845
634. keywestdingding
3:52 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
anyone have any idea about the high of the NC coast and when its gonna shove off
Member Since: March 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 91
633. DocBen
3:50 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Thanks kman. Yes, it is definitely faint. The other one seems to be drawing more attention.

What do you think of that other blob way south near S America in the Carib?
Member Since: May 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 98
632. StormJunkie
3:50 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Afternoon all ☺

That thing is getting sheared to hell and back.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
631. weatherboykris
3:50 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Neither does radar.BBL guys
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
630. homegirl
3:46 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Lateset QuikSCAT shows no swirl.
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 7425
629. kmanislander
3:48 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Doc

No, I did mean West. Take a look at the last couple of frames of the vis loop down in the Bay of Campeche
Link
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15845
628. hurricane23
3:45 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Heaviest rain potential will be to the extreme southeast.

rain
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13839
627. DocBen
3:45 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
kman - west? Do you mean east perhaps?
Member Since: May 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 98
626. stormpetrol
3:43 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
The low level spin itself looks like its dropping a little ESE though the main convection appears to be moving more ENE, if it develops into anything it appears it will be asymmetrical.
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7980
624. kmanislander
3:40 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Pat

The area of "spin" just W of the Yucatan above the 20 degree line seems to be stationary. It is very faint
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15845
623. Patrap
3:39 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
5-day Buoy plot.Buoy 42003.Se GOM Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
622. stormybil
3:38 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
not on the navy site yet as a invest . but it is getting a blow up now in the ir take a look better shape is starting to play out . might get better organized latter today . looks like its drifting ne now .
621. Patrap
3:36 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
GOES IR Loop of Gulf of Mexico Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089

Viewing: 671 - 621

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Overcast
48 °F
Overcast