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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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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320. HurricaneRoman
10:56 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
Good day ppl =]

eww wth??? this isn't a place for religon, it does not tie in with weather and its annoying
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319. southbeachdude
10:53 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
good point sj....btw, thanks for your site and the quick links page.
Member Since: July 29, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 696
318. HurricaneFCast
10:40 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
Will anyone register at my new Forum Website, please. I need some moderators for the Weather Forum there. I'm looking for someone Weather Knowledgeable and someone who is good at "keeping peace". Someone who can help others. If you join it's much appreciated, it's a free membership, no personal information required at all. I'm just trying to make a forum where people can come and discuss anything they want. The best part is, unlike on the blog, Moderators and Administrators will ban anyone who does not follow the rules, so you will not have to put up with the constant personal attacks or basically, the BS, that goes on here during hurricane season. Please take a look, If you're interested in becoming a moderator then join and Private Message forumgiant. Here's the Link: Forum Giant
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317. StormJunkie
10:29 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
sbd, that may be true, except he never shares any of his thoughts here anymore.

I geuss I just wish the educated folks would spend a little more time enlightening....And for the record, enlightening is getting someone to understand, accept, and believe something, not just hear it...
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315. WPBHurricane05
6:32 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
Proverbs and Psalms, my 2 favorite books.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
313. seminolesfan
10:25 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
calm down, Jed. Pride comes before the fall...
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312. southbeachdude
10:20 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
turtlehurricane rocks......
Member Since: July 29, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 696
311. DocBen
10:22 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
EPAC - is there a third one developing near El Salvador?
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310. StormJunkie
10:17 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
when I make a point, you might want to listen, Ive been right many times.

lmao jed...While I know you have a clue most of the time, your ego has taken you off the deep end...
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309. weatherbro
9:56 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
we may get some much needed rain yet an unseasonally strong front is forcast to usher in much drier air by monday/tuesday. dosn't look like this will kick off rainy season.
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307. hurricane23
6:12 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
I agree SJ.
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306. StormJunkie
10:08 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
I am not sure I see the solidarity in the models for this rain or where it may end up...

I think a lot will depend on how well the carib low can get developed now. The more it develops, the more should be left when and if it gets to Fla, but that is just my geuss.


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305. hurricane23
6:10 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
Posted By: FLBoy at 6:08 PM EDT on May 29, 2007. (hide)
The HPC is forecasting 5 inches of rain....not the TPC!
The TPC does not make hydro forecasts over the CONUS!

Iam allowed to make a mistake right?I had a long day at work today.Thankfully of the next 2 days.
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303. BoyntonBeach
10:06 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
The morning weather report did not indicate a "deluge" of rain this weekend, maybe a 40% chance of something ? and we all know how that ends up !
Member Since: July 5, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
302. hurricane23
6:02 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
Plywoodstatenative HPC is forcasting almost 5 inches of rain but i continue to have doupts on this overall scenario takening place.The GFS rain forcast may be a bit to high.Models have different solutions on were the heaviest rain will take place.

As far as tropical cyclone development the chance is very small as conditions in the gulf are very unfavorable and right now a non-tropical system seems more likely if development were to take place.Adrian

Also tonight channel 10 will host a 2007 hurricane season program which will include video from the 05 season along with what might happen this season.Look for max mayfield on the show.

Program starts at 8:00pm tonight.

I'll be watching with my wife.
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300. Jedkins
10:00 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
I am hoping very much that it will actually materialize this time, but unlike last time, this forecasted event is early June, where as last couple rain events that never materialized where early/mid May, which makes a huge difference climotology. So its not too surprising models were wrong before, where as now, if it doesn't materialize, it would be shocking and disturbing being that its June we are talking about this time around.
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298. RL3AO
4:52 PM CDT on May 29, 2007
That is one of the most impressive looking depressions I've seen in a while.
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297. StormJunkie
9:49 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
I agree wpb, those folks along the coast down there need to keep a close watch on it. Looks like it is going to hang around for a little while, and if it happens to set up camp just off shore for awhile it could get hairy.

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296. Jedkins
9:52 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
steering currents are too weak to be able to issue a public advisory just yet, therefore, for now its not a near term close threat to land, but it appears it could eventually become one
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295. plywoodstatenative
9:52 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
I am in Broward County and I am also thinking about taking my landscape ideas and moving them into the desert phase.
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293. Inyo
9:50 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
interesting.. i wonder if thermal inertia in the oceans coupled with cooling of the atmosphere allowed those hurricanes to form?
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292. WPBHurricane05
5:49 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
plywood-If I am not mistaken you live in Broward County. Some of the meteorologist here in Palm Beach are talking about Caribbean moisture coming up here and we may get some good rainfall. Although he did say it is not promised yet and it may or may not happen. That is pretty much the rainfall forecast. For the tropics there really isn't any systems that show signs of development, but I am not sure about the models.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
291. plywoodstatenative
9:49 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
23 any chance for the TD to transition into the Gulf and if so would south florida finally see its first chance at decent rain?
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290. RL3AO
4:49 PM CDT on May 29, 2007
Posted By: WPBHurricane05 at 4:45 PM CDT on May 29, 2007.
I was surprised that the NHC didn't issue a public advisory.


I was surprised as well.
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289. StormJunkie
9:44 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
PWS, that thing should be exiting stage N before too long, not to mention the waters out there are pretty cool.
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288. plywoodstatenative
9:48 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
Okay are any models forecasting anything to form within the next week or so? And if so, what?
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287. WPBHurricane05
5:45 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
NA
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
286. WPBHurricane05
5:43 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
Those that are along the west coast of Mexico should watch this system very closely. It is very close to land and conditions are near perfect for intensification. I was surprised that the NHC didn't issue a public advisory.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
285. hurricane23
5:41 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
Posted By: plywoodstatenative at 5:41 PM EDT on May 29, 2007. (hide)
any chance we could see the ULL east of the Bahamas transition itself to a warm core low?

No.
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283. plywoodstatenative
9:38 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
any chance we could see the ULL east of the Bahamas transition itself to a warm core low?
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282. hurricane23
5:36 PM EDT on May 29, 2007
Not much in the way of inhibiting development of TD2 and in general the NHC indicates the possibility of intensification to 85kts being possible.

Large IR image of the depression...

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280. Inyo
9:32 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
how many hurricanes occurred in the year without a summer?
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279. StormJunkie
9:28 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
Afternoon turtle ☺

So why does it concern you; strength, landfall, crossing the landmass?
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277. Inyo
9:02 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
Intense hurricanes made landfall during the latter half of the Little Ice Age, a period of cooling that occurred approximately from the 14th to mid-19th centuries, he said.

This is silly. The little ice age was associated with a shutdown in the gulf stream. it got COLDER in much of north america and europe because the warm water didn't leave the gulf of mexico and carribean and move north. hmm... maybe this means it was WARMER in those areas back then! The little ice age did not include cooling in all areas.
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276. RL3AO
4:15 PM CDT on May 29, 2007
I guess the guy that makes the public advisories is going to need to do some work and get off the internet.
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275. turtlehurricane
9:14 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
TD Two-E off of Mexico really concerns me, I have made a full update on

Hurricane Warning

It will be very interesting to watch this week.
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274. IKE
4:06 PM CDT on May 29, 2007
Posted By: MichaelSTL at 4:05 PM CDT on May 29, 2007.
I have notified Taz about this because we all know that he loves pinhole eyes


LOL...yeah he does.
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273. Drakoen
9:04 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
2 systems in the EP.
On another note the weather man that i watch occasionally on TV says there possible Low level development in the north Carribean Late this week. As you know anything that forms in that general area heads toward south Florida.
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272. RL3AO
4:04 PM CDT on May 29, 2007
Right over 30C water and its not going anywhere soon. Interesting.
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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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