Sea life's importance to the climate

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

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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.

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621. Patrap
10:35 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
GOES IR Loop of Gulf of Mexico Link
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620. kmanislander
3:32 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: stormpetrol at 3:32 PM GMT on May 30, 2007.

Is that Invest moving in the direction of wrongway Lennie from West to East or will it move in the direction of Florida?


Hi stormpetrol
The TPC says NE over Fla. See graphic below. Time will tell
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
619. hurricane23
11:33 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
Folks this is not an invest....Its being labeled by SSD and there no confirmation anywere of an invest at the present time.Look for it on NRL or the FHMOC site.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
618. groundman
3:30 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
You're right marlinsfan1, it do say invest and thankyou. If it's non tropical why are they investigating it, just curious? I know somebody has answered this but is it just caution mainly.

Also someone said we had Barb in the Pacific?? Is that 2E??

Heaven for blobwatchers!! LOL
617. stormpetrol
3:29 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Is that Invest moving in the direction of wrongway Lennie from West to East or will it move in the direction of Florida?
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615. hurricane23
11:29 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: stormybil at 11:29 AM EDT on May 30, 2007. (hide)
what part of fla. will get the most out of this ?

Iam leaning towards accuweather's idea with the heaviest rain potential being in the south east from about fort myers to the keys.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
614. weatherboykris
3:29 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
South Florida will get the most rain.
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613. nash28
3:29 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Not sure, but I hope it is Tampa northward.

Sorry, obviously biased here....
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
612. stormybil
3:28 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
what part of fla. will get the most out of this ?
611. ricderr
3:28 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Big deal.We might get a TD out of this thing.But that's about it.


psst WBK......we're talkin rain dude...we're talkin drinkable showerable grow your plantables rain baby!!!!!!!
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 674 Comments: 21758
610. marlinsfan1
11:26 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/satellite.shtml

and where it says Atlantic floater 2
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609. Inyo
3:24 PM GMT 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!
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608. hurricane23
11:24 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
This area right now appears to be nearly stationary and most likely is being enhanced by the jet a little to its north also shear remains rather high but looking at some models it may slowly slaken of and may allow some slight development. Right now the ending result here will be lots of rain for florida.Adrian
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
606. kmanislander
3:23 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
605. Patrap
10:13 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
the likely solution...The GFSx Link
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604. marlinsfan1
11:13 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
What are you trying to show us patrap
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603. weatherboykris
3:15 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Big deal.We might get a TD out of this thing.But that's about it.
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602. MisterPerfect
3:14 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Will this tropical moisture arrive in South Florida before the weekend now?
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600. marlinsfan1
11:13 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
Floater 2 nows says invest!!!
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599. aquak9
11:13 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
I have no hope for Rain here in Northeast Florida. Quit teasing me.
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598. Patrap
10:12 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
WU look on radar..248nm range.30 frames. Link
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597. moonlightcowboy
3:11 PM GMT on May 30, 2007


..."blow, blow Seminole Wind...gotta get the rain to come back again!"
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
596. hurricane23
11:09 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
Maybe a possible outcome similar to alberto last year.Rather low chances though.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
595. cchsweatherman
3:09 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
The radar out of Florida is now picking up some of the "Invest" in the Florida Straits. Looks like a big soaker is finally on it's way here.
Link
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594. weatherboykris
3:02 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Australia's BOM issued their ENSO update.They say the developing La Nina has stalled but a La Nina is still likely.
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593. kmanislander
3:01 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Hurricanecrab

Am I glad that you figured that one out for me LOL
Pouring here now too. Looks like its going to be that way all day
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
592. hurricane23
10:59 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
When you see it labeled on the NRL sight or even the FHMOC then we have game.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
591. Patrap
10:00 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
Invest here: click twice to enlarge floater.Link
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590. hurricanecrab
2:59 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
LOL Kman! That would be your basic post-blob pre-invest? ha

Heavy rain here, T&L. How about you? Getting offline for a bit.
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589. MisterPerfect
2:54 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
LAKE OKEECHOBEE FEELS THE BURN

The Associated Press

The months-long drought has led to severe
water restrictions for homes and businesses across the state, and the lake's low water levels reflect groundwater levels throughout South Florida, officials said. The region is largely dependent on the lake during dry periods, when it can be used as a reservoir.

Four coastal wells in Palm Beach and Broward counties have been closed as their levels dropped to prevent contamination from salt water, putting more pressure on wells farther inland, Wehle said.

Citrus growers and other farmers have already been ordered to cut their water use by half, and the most severe residential restrictions could be extended through counties surrounding the lake, she said.

"If Lake Okeechobee doesn't get sufficient rainfall, the impact of a drought next year could be more serious,'' Wehle said.

The last time water levels rose in the lake was after Tropical Storm Ernesto brushed past Florida in August 2006, according to the Jacksonville district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The lake level rose 1.5 feet to 13.5 feet after that storm, said Andrew Geller, a corps hydraulic engineer.

"That was the end of our significant rainfall,'' Geller said.

The low water levels, however, have temporarily ended the threat of a massive breach of the earthen dike around the lake in a hurricane or heavy rains.

"There's almost no possibility of it breaching at this level,'' said Alan Bugg, the corps chief of construction and operations in Jacksonville.

Officials caution that back-to-back drenching hurricanes in the Kissimmee River valley or over the lake could fill it up again.

The corps has an $856 million plan to fix the dike, a project that could take 15 to 20 years. A state-commissioned report released last year noted the 143-mile-long Herbert Hoover Dike bore "a striking resemblance to Swiss cheese.'' Construction began on the dike in the 1930s after thousands of people died when the lake overflowed in hurricanes in 1926 and 1928.
The drought has allowed officials to start clearing 500,000 cubic yards of rotted plant life and sediment from the southwest portion of the 730-square-mile freshwater lake, the second-largest in the contiguous United States. Removing the muck will return the lake bottom along the shoreline in that area to a more sandy base, and create clearer water and better habitat for plants and wildlife, officials have said.
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588. ricderr
2:57 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
1

YES PAT...WE SEE THE INVEST ON THE HORIZON
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 674 Comments: 21758
587. kmanislander
2:56 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: Patrap at 2:55 PM GMT on May 30, 2007.

They moved the floater in anticipation of the invest to come.Its called foresight.

Or advance notice perhaps ?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
586. C2News
2:55 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
We have Barb in the Pacific!
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585. Patrap
9:54 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
They moved the floater in anticipation of the invest to come.Its called foresight.
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584. kmanislander
2:55 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Shear in that area is 30 to 50 knots.
However the system and the shear will be travelling in the same direction.
Link
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583. Patrap
9:53 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
GOM SST's 60 hour model..plus wind,waves,currents too Link
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582. kmanislander
2:52 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: weatherboykris at 2:51 PM GMT on May 30, 2007.

kman...a floater can be designated in the absence of an invest.

Sounds odd that one agency can designate a feature as an invest for the purposes of monitoring it by satellite when in fact it is not an invest. Makes no sense to me but if that is the way it is so be it. Thanks

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
581. MisterPerfect
2:51 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I'll invest 92 shares of contaminated aquifer
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580. southbeachdude
2:51 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
how is the current wind sheer and gulf temps in this area?
Member Since: July 29, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 697
579. TheRingo
10:39 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
looks like 3.4 is negative now. into La Nina.


anomalies
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578. weatherboykris
2:49 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
kman...a floater can be designated in the absence of an invest.
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577. Patrap
9:48 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
GOM IR..the surface low is forming Nwest of the Yucatan..shows up nicely here in the IRLink
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576. kmanislander
2:46 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: hurricane23 at 2:45 PM GMT on May 30, 2007.

No confirmation of an invest this only labeled by SSD.

Are you saying that invest does not mean invest ?. Can a floater be designated as such in the absence of an invest ?. I don't follow
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
575. hurricane23
10:43 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
No confirmation of an invest this only labeled by SSD.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
574. Patrap
9:40 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
5 day plot: buoy 42002 GOM Link..the trend is down in pressure. 29.91 now
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573. kmanislander
2:41 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
here we go. Invest
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
572. keywestdingding
2:40 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE GET THAT HIGH PRESSURE OF THE CAROLINA COAST, SO WE CAN GET SOME MUCH NEEDED RAIN HERE IN SOUTH FLORIDA! I JUST LOOKED AT THE REPORT AND ITS GONNA BE AROUND UNTIL SAT. **&^*%$$^#%&#$&^%%&*%^(&^%&^*!
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571. hurricane23
10:39 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
SSD has just added a floater to it but it does not mean we have an invest out there.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804

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

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