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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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: 13597
570. kmanislander
2:36 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
The Floater that has the old image of what is now the second epac system has once again been designated "invest"

I wonder if they are about to start monitoring the Yucatan blow up ?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
569. hurricane23
10:38 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
Possible area of low pressure non-tropical maybe forming somewere in this area and steering currents in general will drive this whole mess NE and hopfully bring florida needed rain.

Chances are low of it being purely tropical but overall the impact will be the same.

rain
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
568. Patrap
9:36 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
Pensacola Beach rain cam...Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125736
567. PensacolaDoug
2:35 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
It's a beautiful thing!
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566. snotly
2:00 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
FloorManBroward : Lake Okeechobee on fire

Must be bad if the water in the lake is on fire. Those guys just can't catch a break.
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565. PensacolaDoug
2:30 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
It's raining in Pensacola some more! Whoo Hoo!
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564. Patrap
9:32 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
Hail bruises the metro areaLink
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125736
563. southbeachdude
2:31 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
That is a sad commentary Jedkins, but I agree 100%. This issue will not go away......another ugghhhhh!
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562. Gatorxgrrrl
2:28 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
MP - Interesting post about Lake Okeechobee. When I drove to Broward County this weekend, I was amazed that in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, at the Turnpike Service Plazas, they had contineous (sp) water running to clean bugs off of windshields. It did look like there was a drain to recycle the water that ran off, but there was much evaporation. It was odd to see that with water restrictions imposed.
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560. southbeachdude
2:24 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Lets just hope for rain and not power outages....ughhhhh! Do most people think sub tropical system or td? I am leaning towards a weak subtropical system this morning.
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559. MisterPerfect
2:26 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Lake Okeechobee matches record low

BY MARTIN MERZER
MiamiHerald.com

Florida's deepening drought brought Lake Okeechobee back to its record low Wednesday morning and new records will be set later in the day and at least the next few days, officials said.

The lake's level stands at 8.97 feet -- and falling. That temporary mark matches the record low reached during the 2001 drought.

''Because it's a hot, windy day, evaporation will be at a maximum and we will dip below the previous record some time today,'' said Randy Smith, a spokesman for the South Florida Water Management District.

Stringent water restrictions, including limitations on lawn watering and car washing, already are in effect throughout South Florida and are expected to continue well into the summer rainy season.

An average of just seven inches of rain has fallen across the region during the last five months, according to the water management district, and above average rainfall is required to replenish the system and return regional supplies to normal conditions.

''Water managers anticipated for many months that scarce rainfall across South Florida would bring new record lows,'' said Carol Ann Wehle, the district's executive director.

''We are preparing for continued dry conditions and using all available emergency measures to protect drinking water supplies, meet the needs of our farmers and safeguard the environment, but the regional impacts of a drought are extreme and far-reaching,'' she said.

Lake Okeechobee, the second largest freshwater lake in the United States, serves as the primary backup water supply to millions of South Floridians. But when the lake drops below a certain level, its waters cannot be used to replenish the regional supply.

Though forecasters say rain could moisten much of the region Friday, Saturday and Sunday, only stray showers are expected Wednesday and Thursday.

''The forecast is not very encouraging,'' Smith said.



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558. ricderr
2:24 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
but nash.....is there an eye yet?.....LOLOL.....heck.....i'm so dry right now...i might eagerly await a ts...anything stronger..i'll stay dry
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557. FMTXWMAN
2:24 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Another 2 inches of rain here in tx on the way. Watching the gauge fill up.

I'd gladly give it to you guys in the SE. Grass is gettin high and I need to mow bad.
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556. nash28
2:21 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Either way, we still have a pretty good chance of a TD from this. That would spell good news for precip.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
554. hurricane23
10:19 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: cchsweatherman at 10:18 AM EDT on May 30, 2007.

Anybody have the site for the TPC? I have not been able to find it.

Links from NCEP.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
553. ricderr
2:18 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
lake O was reported yesterday to be 1 inch from it lowest recorded depth which occured in 2001...today it is expected to exceed it
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552. cchsweatherman
2:17 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Anybody have the site for the TPC? I have not been able to find it.
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551. cajunkid
9:10 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
nm...sorry
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550. moonlightcowboy
2:07 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
How much water will bring it up? I'm on a lake and it's record low, too. They say an inch means a rise of a foot; but, I'm guessing that Okeechobee is not in a large watershed area? It could be. Sure hope FL gets some good rain soon!
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549. hurricane23
10:07 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
Here is a piece from HPC that took place earlier this morning.

WITH EVOLVING SFC LOW PRESSURE BY THE LATTER HALF OF THE PERIOD...
PREFER LEANING TOWARD THE UKMET/12Z ECMWF/00Z NCEP-GEFS ENSEMBLE
MEAN... OR LACKING THOSE OPTIONS... A WEAKER VERSION OF THE NAM.
TYPICALLY PREMATURE EVOLUTION OF SYSTEMS ORIGINATING FROM TROPICAL
LATITUDES FAVORS DISCOUNTING THE CANADIAN GLBL WHICH BRINGS A WELL
DEFINED SFC LOW INTO NERN FL BY EARLY SAT. THE GFS IS THE NEXT
FASTEST MODEL WITH A TRACK MUCH FARTHER WSW OF THE CANADIAN GLBL.
THE NAM IS LIKELY TOO DEEP BASED ON ITS HISTORY OF LOWER LATITUDE
SYSTEMS FROM LAST YEAR... THOUGH ITS SLOWER PROGRESSION AND
INTERMEDIATE SFC LOW TRACK ARE GENERALLY SUPPORTED BY THE
UKMET/12Z ECMWF. NAM EVOLUTION THAT CONSOLIDATES ENERGY FROM
CNTRL AMERICA AND VICINITY AND GFS EVOLUTION USING ENERGY
INITIALLY OVER/NEAR THE YUCATAN PENINSULA ARE BOTH LOW CONFIDENCE
FCSTS... ESPECIALLY WITH THE LACK OF A CURRENT WELL DEFINED
FEATURE OVER THE ORIGINATING REGION IN SATL IMAGERY AND APPEARANCE
OF FEEDBACK IN THE MODEL QPF PATTERN. THE LARGE SCALE PATTERN
DOES FAVOR INCREASED FLOW OF MOISTURE AND SOME GRADUAL LOWERING OF
SFC PRESSURES OVER THE SERN GULF/FL LATER IN THE PERIOD THOUGH.
ABOVE CONSIDERATIONS MAKE THE UKMET/12Z ECMWF/00Z NCEP-GEFS
ENSEMBLE MEAN THE BEST OPTIONS AT THIS TIME.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
548. weathers4me
2:03 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
LOL. That pic is amazing. Didn't know it was that low.
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547. hurricane23
10:02 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
ElectricMonk for more models see my model page on my website.

Here.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
546. MisterPerfect
1:59 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Tried to fish from a pier on Lake Okeechobee. I caught a cigarette butt but it was undersize so I threw it back.


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545. weatherboykris
1:59 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I'm sorry,but all those tracks pointing towards the Gulf seem interesting.Not saying it's gonna happen,but still interesting.

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544. weatherboykris
1:57 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
.
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543. animalrsq
1:50 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I was waiting for an answer to ElectricMonk's question too. Can you post it, StormW? Thanks!
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542. ElectricMonk
1:43 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Appreciated!
I am an armchair storm chaser, and have been lurking here for ages. I am by no means a meterologist, but I really do enjoy this blog, and Dr. Masters commentary, when stuff gets cooking.
For those in parched Florida, let's hope the rain, when it comes, comes gently...otherwise you will have some nasty flooding from runoff that won't soak into the pottery that passes for ground over there at the moment!
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541. ElectricMonk
1:40 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Ah StormW.
Yes, that was more like what I had in mind! Thanks! :)
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540. Patrap
8:41 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
They will probably use them when a storm becomes intialized. But im sure we can find an answer here somewhere ElectricMonk
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125736
539. ElectricMonk
1:25 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Thanks Patrap
What I think I was looking for was an aggragate map, a single map showing the current predicted storm paths for a given active system from each of the prime models all overlaid on each other. I see these maps from time to time on some sites, but they are static images, don't update, and don't link to the source. They look like they might come from the NOAA NHC but I can't find where.
But thanks! Appreciate your response!
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538. Tazmanian
1:36 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
care full what you wish for when you do get your rain
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537. thelmores
1:28 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
hope we get some rain from that channel blob, we could sure use it!

you guys are just too funny, keep it up! :D
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536. WKendallGuy
8:30 AM EST on May 30, 2007
Fire on the lake! Amazing. Thanks for the link FlrManBrow

Here's a link to the Corp of Engineers that keeps track of Lake Okeechobee and may be of interest.

With yesterday's numbers it is already at +8.97' which is the record low; since it is going lower it will set new records daily.

A brief summary (cfs):
"Total Inflows: 0 ...
Total Outflows: 1721 (BAD VALUE)"

It would definitely help for that crazy blob to sit there for a week.
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535. homegirl
1:30 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I don't know what's worse, (or better, depending on how you look at it) the trolls, or the whining and moaning that goes on and on about them. LOL

Looks like Fl will finally get some relief!! Yeah :)
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534. cajunkid
8:29 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
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533. Patrap
8:25 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
A good fetch here on the ULL's inflow side.A soaker today..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125736
530. wegee
1:20 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
One terawatt of energy and one terawatt of focussed energy are two different things. How do we get all the little fishies to swim in the same direction? I'm skeptical...

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528. Patrap
8:21 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
The big ULL with lotsa energy to keep it in check though as it dives Se out of Texas and shunts it NEast..all that to bring some good rains to the fire areas hopefully.Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125736
527. kmanislander
1:21 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Good morning all.
The QS pass indicates a low near 13N 78W but the sat image does not show anything at those coordinates. Does anyone know why that would be so ?

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
526. Patrap
8:20 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
The GFSx has been on it for 4 days now..Its a relief bringer. Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125736
525. hurricane23
9:20 AM EDT on May 30, 2007
This is what accuweather has to say about the developing low.I agree with this outlook.

ggg

AccuWeather.com is forecasting an active tropical season, and although Friday is only the first official day of the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season, we might already have something to watch. A tropical low will be developing over the northwest Caribbean over the next two days, and upper-level winds will help to pull this storm northward. While it is unlikely that this will become a strong tropical system, it will have to be monitored for development. There is a good chance that much of the Florida peninsula will receive significant rainfall from this system, and there are indications that it may reach northward into Georgia and the Carolinas. After several months of abnormally dry weather, any rainfall is welcome, and a big rainmaker like this would be a blessing.

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
524. Patrap
8:18 AM CDT on May 30, 2007

Computer models used to forecast hurricanesLink
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125736
523. Patrap
8:14 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
Then flag it..Ignore it.And move along as admin asked. This is the result when we dont. Craziness.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125736
522. cajunkid
8:11 AM CDT on May 30, 2007
Floorman,

We had that problem in southwest LA back in the mid 90's. No fires, but many water wells were salty. Some were so salty, we couldn't pump on rice ground for a couple years.
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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.