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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370. HurricaneGeek
9:32 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
hey Nash
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369. kmanislander
1:28 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: Chicklit at 1:21 AM GMT on May 30, 2007.

...Thanks, Weatherblog. Because that was the year we got hit 4 times in Central Florida, after years of pretty much being left alone.
Do the storms in the earlier part of the season usually come up from the Caribbean and then later on come off of Africa?

Essentially that is correct. From the start of the season until mid to late July most storms have their genesis in the Caribbean or the GOM. From mid to late July until the end of Sept we have what is known as the Cape Verde storms that start off as waves of low pressure on the West African coast and then traverse the Atlantic, often becoming very intense hurricanes of cat 4 or 5. The reason for this is that those are the months when all the conditions are just about right in the tropical Atlantic and, furthermore, the systems have thousands of miles of open warm water to strenghten on. Come Oct and Nov we revert to the Caribbean for the breeding ground of tropical systems as wind shear tends to be too strong across the Atlantic by then
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368. nash28
1:29 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
Evening everyone. Just finished a dinner party. What's up?
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
367. HurricaneGeek
9:28 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
Hey, Good evening everybody!!
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366. Chicklit
1:25 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
Mmmm...Thanks K-man! That looks good enough to guzzle! Think I'll go pour me a cold one...
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365. kmanislander
1:21 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
Hi Chicklit

Just for you LOL

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364. Chicklit
1:20 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
...Thanks, Weatherblog. Because that was the year we got hit 4 times in Central Florida, after years of pretty much being left alone.
Do the storms in the earlier part of the season usually come up from the Caribbean and then later on come off of Africa?
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363. weatherblog
1:16 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: Chicklit at 1:14 AM GMT on May 30, 2007.

Ummm...I didn't see the Miss Universe pageant and don't quote me on this, but one of my friends told me not to drink Coronas anymore because because uh, they...(Hint: It's the same color as beer.) Why do you think you add the lime?:)
Getting back to the weather, was there a La Nina in 2004?



No, actually it was a weak El Nino.
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362. weatherblog
1:14 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
Hey everybody and good evening.

Come to my blog on the top of my page after you click my name. It has a lot of information that's going on with this caribbean system. It'll explain everything that's going on. Thanks!

-Justin~
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360. kmanislander
1:09 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
From the 8:05 discussion

The Caribbean Sea...
a sfc trough remains in the Caribbean along 20n81w 12n80w. A
weak 1010 mb low is along the trough near 15n81w which is
expected to dissipate through Wed. Scattered showers and
isolated tstms are within 150nm either side of the trough axis.
Upper diffluence around ridging is supporting isolated moderate
convection off the Colombian coast S of 15n between 70w-80w.

The NHC have finally placed the low where I indicated it was from late this morning. It remains to be seen whether it dissipates or not. Other than that not much else going on for now
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359. hurricane23
21:08 EDT le 29 mai 2007
Really enjoyed the show especially the history segments.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13639
355. sarepa
12:48 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
i play and have a hurrican hunter
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352. melwerle
12:38 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
working working working. Cooking breakfast at o-early hundred for the wealthy and it's killing me! I think I'm going to go back to publishing soon as the hours in this biz ARE TERRIBLE. Lurking around here and there - getting a kick over the fights on global warming this afternoon - seemed like it was "let's beat up Nash Day" this afternoon. Anyone heard from Randrewl at all? I know what happened last year but I'm sure he's got to be back... How have you been?
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350. melwerle
12:34 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
Hey Storm! Hey Patrap and h23 and all - nice to see you.
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349. WPBHurricane05
8:26 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
I wonder about the people in Broward and Dade counties. During Wilma the storm moved very quickly and lasted for about 8 hours if that. Wilma was moving around 30 mph. If a storm that came from the Atlantic was approaching and was moving at 15 mph I think that many people will be expecting around a 8 hour event, but they will soon be wrong. Although I am not sure how preparedness would be different but I think people would start stressing out because the storm would last for a long time. Just a thought...
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
347. melwerle
12:25 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
Hey StormW - ok -thanks for giving me the clue to go check out his page...

puts it all in perspective for me. Now it's pointless to even put in a dig - he is causing fights in the sandbox. thank you - not worth the fight.

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345. Patrap
7:22 PM CDT on May 29, 2007
Standby NOLA..thunderstorms from the Southeast a coming..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
344. melwerle
12:20 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
amen - someone finally pulled out the God card. Perhaps we can get that written in STONE too. I would feel much better about it.

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343. Patrap
7:20 PM CDT on May 29, 2007
Nite StormW
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
342. hurricaneman23
12:07 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
max keeps it simple, says stay alert
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340. Patrap
7:05 PM CDT on May 29, 2007
0z 8 June GFSx Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127673
339. HurricaneFCast
12:02 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
Lol.. I wish we could get some sort of rain here in Florida....

Forum Giant
Member Since: April 20, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 1482
338. hurricaneman23
12:03 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
go max. wooooooooo
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337. StormJunkie
12:01 AM GMT on May 30, 2007
Kinda cool to see the Fla low on the last GFDL run. Don't think it can be counted as very accurate, but neat none the less.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15842
336. Comatose
11:56 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
Here's to hoping for some rain in Central FL this weekend!

/raises beer
335. aquak9
7:51 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
And, of course, no rain in sight for the north FLorida/south Georgia area.

Thanks, ya'll.
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334. ricderr
11:51 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
hey fl........thanx for the updates....randrewl used to post those all the time...since he's been banned good to see another name keep em up....enjoy your tuesday
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333. marlinsfan1
7:47 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
The caribbean blob is starting to lose alot again!!!
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332. LowerCal
4:45 PM PDT on May 29, 2007
more from Tropical Depression TWO-E Forecast Discussion

ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS FAVOR STRENGTHENING. THE DEPRESSION IS
OVER WATERS WARMER THAN 30C...AND THE DEEP-LAYER SHEAR IS VERY
LIGHT. THE UPPER FLOW OVER THE DEPRESSION IS ALREADY HIGHLY
DIVERGENT... AND COULD BE ENHANCED BY THE EXPECTED TROUGHING OVER
THE GULF OF MEXICO.
BOTH THE SHIPS AND GFDL GUIDANCE TAKE THE
CYCLONE TO 80 KT OR HIGHER...AND THE SHIPS RAPID INTENSIFICATION
INDEX IS UNUSUALLY HIGH.
THE OFFICIAL FORECAST IS IN GOOD
AGREEMENT WITH THIS GUIDANCE. POTENTIAL INHIBITING FACTORS WOULD
BE SOME DRY AIR TO THE NORTHWEST OF THE CYCLONE AND SOME POSSIBLE
MID-LEVEL NORTHERLY SHEAR...BOTH OF WHICH COULD IMPACT THE
RELATIVELY SMALL CYCLONE AND CAUSE LESS DEVELOPMENT THAN INDICATED
HERE.
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330. LowerCal
4:36 PM PDT on May 29, 2007
from Tropical Depression TWO-E Forecast Discussion

THE OFFICIAL FORECAST CALLS
FOR A SLOW DRIFT AWAY FROM THE MEXICAN COAST OVER THE NEXT COUPLE
OF DAYS. WHILE ALL THE MAJOR MODELS ARE IN GENERAL AGREEMENT ON
THIS SCENARIO...INTERESTS ALONG THE PACIFIC COAST OF MEXICO BETWEEN
ACAPULCO AND SALINA CRUZ SHOULD CLOSELY MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THE
DEPRESSION UNTIL THE EXPECTED MOTION AWAY FROM THE COASTLINE
BECOMES ESTABLISHED.
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329. weathers4me
11:23 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
Saturday: Rain and lots of it for cental and south FL...
Member Since: May 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 118
328. southbeachdude
11:24 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
okay back to storm stuff.....anyone know what time the new model runs come out?
Member Since: July 29, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 696
325. WPBHurricane05
7:12 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
Yes sir hurricane23.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
324. hurricane23
7:10 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
WPB are you watching the show tonight on channel 10?
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13639
323. NRAamy
4:08 PM PDT on May 29, 2007
The subject has been dropped.

thank you Jesus!!!

( just kidding people!!! )


;)
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322. WPBHurricane05
7:06 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
There was only 2 or 3 post on religion and that was 30 minutes ago. The subject has been dropped.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
321. KoritheMan
11:03 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
Good Lord, you have NO IDEA how much weather and religion can get annoying. I could get a headache when someone puts weather and religion together. They are two seperate things, let's just leave it that and move on.
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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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