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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1221. K8eCane
1:05 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
hello Storm !
good to see ya!
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 3210
1219. K8eCane
1:04 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
but you guys continue on and i'll continue lurking and attempting to learn
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 3210
1218. hurricane23
9:01 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
There's 2 directions this area could go,a path to the north towards the panhandle on futher south into south florida and the keys.Overall the impacts look the same as of right now with lots of tropical moisture.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
1217. K8eCane
1:02 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
i know absolutely LITTLE about forecasting
but you can learn a lot here and also a lot by watching storms year after year
and watching the types of things that move and mold them
other than that i know NOTHING
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 3210
1216. K8eCane
1:00 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
anyway
this blob gives something for everyone to watch and speculate on
i enjoy that myself
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 3210
1215. hurricane23
9:00 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
Hey storm!
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
1214. K8eCane
12:59 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
H23
he didnt say anybody was being dramatic
he said rather dramatic change from yesterday
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 3210
1213. hurricane23
8:57 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
Posted By: GulfScotsman at 8:52 AM EDT on May 31, 2007. (hide)
H23... seems to be ... well.... rather dramatic change from yesterday..... what was your forecst yesterday?

No body is being dramatic about anything here just stateing facts about the convection to my south.

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
1210. weatherboykris
12:57 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
Thanks Adrian.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
1209. weatherboykris
12:57 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
augur...how do you figure that?
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
1208. hurricane23
8:55 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
Overall nothing has changed as far as the season goes we still are looking at nina in the next few months and conditions also things look to be favorable acorss the MDR region.As far as landfall predictions there's really no reason to speculate on what areas will see activity later this summer as only mother nature knows whats going yo take place.All you can do is just be ready and prepare for the worst and hope for the best.Adrian
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
1207. augur
12:54 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
Barbara may be keeping incipient Barry from moving north in time to soak Florida.
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1206. weatherboykris
12:52 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
LOL...we'll bite.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
1204. ricderr
12:49 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
ok h23......why do you expect little change?
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 674 Comments: 21758
1203. HCW
12:45 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
I expect us to see and Invest out of this very soon

Link

It's a shame that hybrids in that area don't produce that much rain.

Hardcoreweather.com

Link
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1202. Patrap
7:43 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
They there every day...morning,evening
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1201. hurricane23
8:42 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
I expect very little change on there update.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
1200. ricderr
12:40 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
PAT...very nice...when we lived in Ca.....we had a pair that would nest on our balcony.....loved to hear them 'talk" to each other.....
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 674 Comments: 21758
1199. Patrap
7:41 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
The 60 hour GOM wind model..wave,SSts,current too....Link
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1198. weatherboykris
12:35 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
Can't wait for that CSU forecast,especially their landfall probabilities.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
1197. weatherboykris
12:34 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
It's interesting to note that CONU,the consensus system which usually has average forecast errors better than the NHC...has it heading towards the GOM.Still doubt it,though.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
1196. crownwx
8:33 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
New Colorado State U hurricane forecast should be released by 10:30 am EDT.

Link
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1195. WPBHurricane05
8:32 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
NA
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1194. homegirl
12:33 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
Once in a Blue Moon. . .
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1193. weatherboykris
12:32 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
pcshell...seriously doubt that.A system going from one basin to another is rare enough...but when it does happen,it's usually from the Atlantic to EPAC,not the other way around.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
1192. Patrap
7:30 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Only 1 vis frame on Barbara.You can see it on the IR though here.Link
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1191. nash28
12:27 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
Good morning my freinds. Got a meeting this morning, but will be back in a bit. Our chances for at least a TD are looking better this morning.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
1190. pcshell
8:27 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
why is no one talking about barbara she looks to be trying to make a cross
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1189. Patrap
7:25 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Film from yesterdays tropical rains..and a dove ric. Link
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1188. weatherboykris
12:26 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
Yeah,Patrpa.You don't often get them that luckily placed.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
1187. ricderr
12:24 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
well...we got models....we got lows....we got rain in south florida that has now traveled north to ft lauderdale...hopefully it can make it another 100 miles to my parched lawn...this should be a good day
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 674 Comments: 21758
1186. augur
12:25 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
Latest water vapor and visible satellite show the clover leaf pattern that I often see portends a quickly developing TS when wind shear permits, with center at about 83.7 w, 18.3 n
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1185. Patrap
7:20 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
The buoy graphs show it best kris.That buoy is in a sweet spot.
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1184. Patrap
7:19 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Buoy 42056 5-day plot shows the fall well. Link
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1183. kmanislander
12:19 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
BBL
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
1182. weatherboykris
12:17 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
When you smooth out the normal diurnal variations,you can see pressure is dropping.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
1181. IKE
7:17 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
The NAM and CMC are the northern/western models. GFS..UKMET are to south Florida.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1180. IKE
7:15 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Good morning everyone....

I don't care if this system is ever a TD or TS...just a couple of inches of rain please...although I think it will make it to at least a TD.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1179. StormJunkie
12:10 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
Yeah, I'm in the middle of doing my analysis, and the only models that are closest right now at intializing this are the NAM, and UKMET. CMC has it too far south, although this area was just recently analyzed as a surface low...so it's possible the models may catch on.

SW, remember that the last CMC run is now over 12hrs old also. I am not discounting the CMC yet. It has been very consistent with the forecast for some time now. Not to mention, the CMC would likely be best for all in Fla and Ga...

The next run should be out around 2. Find most of the models and model pages from here.

Back to work. Catch y'all later.
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1178. stormhank
12:10 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
Morning IKE n everyone.. any chance we'll get some rain up here in panhandle from that system near the yucatan?
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1177. Patrap
7:10 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Mitch is a nightmare memory. I was rebuilding homes on the water in Bay Minette east of Mobile Bay after Georges in 98. Imagine Mitch sized storm in GOM. Thats a creepy spookie thought.With weak steering to boot.
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1176. kmanislander
12:06 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
Yeah Pat thats what I thought and you can see SSW winds on the W side of the Yucatan from it on the WV loop. All depends on whether those winds stay down there as the gomex feature moves to the E. The NW Caribbean down in the Bay of Campeche is famous for weak steering any time of year. Remember Mitch got stuck on top of Roatan for 5 days !
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
1175. IKE
7:06 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Posted By: Joshfsu123 at 7:04 AM CDT on May 31, 2007.
The local weather people in Tallahassee have mentioned that the High Pressure forecasted by the GFS model is too strong. Thus, that is pushing the system into South Florida.

The High Pressure over Florida has actually weakened and pushed its way eastward into the Atlantic. This should allow a more northern motion until the TROF over the central plains moves in and sweeps it out to sea.


I read their morning discussion and was disappointed...not much rain according to them. Hopefully their wrong.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1174. WPBHurricane05
8:06 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
Lake O needs rain.

Lake Okeechobee in Fla. dehydrated to record low
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1173. Patrap
7:06 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
GOES Water Vapor Loop of Gulf and Caribbean Link
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1172. IKE
7:05 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
SE winds gusting to 29 knots at buoy 42056.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1171. Patrap
7:04 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
That big sw flow under that trough is the mechanism to drive the Low/storm to the Nne Kman...
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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.