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: 697
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: 697
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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304. FLBoy
10:07 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
The HPC is forecasting 5 inches of rain....not the TPC!
The TPC does not make hydro forecasts over the CONUS!
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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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301. FLBoy
10:01 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
Posted By: Jedkins at 9:56 PM GMT on May 29, 2007.

Posted By: plywoodstatenative at 9:50 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?


what the heck apperntly you don't pay attention to local weather much, because models agree on a big rain maker for at least central south Florida this weekend, can't say how heavy or if it will be tropical though, due to the fact it will be baroclinically forced due to the upper trough and shear won't be too favorable, it will likely be a hybrid low embedded in a tropical envirnment.


Real sweet there Jedkins.
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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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294. FLBoy
9:51 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
I purposely did not post this earlier because I honestly did not understand all of the directions here. But there's 4 cyclonic circulations mentioned and I will be watching for the wanderer over Venezuela myself.
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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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284. MichaelSTL
4:40 PM CDT on May 29, 2007
This is what I could find; you have to remember that there are no complete records prior to 1851:

1816 Atlantic hurricane season
Records from ship logs have determined both 1815 and 1816 were active hurricane seasons, with at least 12 tropical cyclones ascribed to 1816 alone. This is some evidence that a northward-displaced Intertropical Convergence Zone appears to be partially responsible for the increased 1816 tropical cyclone activity. [6]

I. June 5-8: A hurricane brushed the Florida Keys, causing the loss of 5 ships. [7] Interestingly, it appears to have been lured northward by an unusual June snowstorm across New England [8].

II. Haiti, around Port-au-Prince, was struck by a hurricane on August 18th [9].

III. Martinique, eastern Cuba, and South Carolina were impacted by a hurricane between September 3 and September 11. [1]

IV. A tropical storm affected Virginia on September 18 before moving northeast into New York. The tropical storm caused heavy flooding in the James River area.

V. There is record of a hurricane moving by Dominica and Barbados [10] on September 15 before devastating Puerto Rico [1] on September 18. The cyclone then recurved between the United States East coast and Bermuda by September 25.

VI. On October 16-17, a severe gale was experienced in Dominica and Martinique. During the storm, an earthquake shook the region.
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
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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281. FLBoy
9:38 PM GMT on May 29, 2007
Everything ends up in the Gulf Turtle. You should know that. Ask anyone.
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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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278. MichaelSTL
4:30 PM CDT on May 29, 2007
The little ice age did not include cooling in all areas.

Right; and here is more on the LIA, and here is the gist of that:

However, an exhaustive study of 19th century explorer logs for the region yields no evidence of conditions that would be considered unusually cold by modern standards.

So it wasn't really an "ice age". And while it is true that the Year Without a Summer occurred in that period, that was due to massive volcanic eruptions.
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
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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271. MichaelSTL
4:05 PM CDT on May 29, 2007
I have notified Taz about this because we all know that he loves pinhole eyes and rapidly intensifying storms... LOL. We might see something like this in a few days:

HURRICANE SERGIO SPECIAL DISCUSSION NUMBER 8
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP212006
900 AM PST WED NOV 15 2006

THIS SPECIAL ADVISORY IS BEING ISSUED TO REFLECT THAT SERGIO HAS
INTENSIFIED TO 85 KNOTS. THIS IS BASED ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A
PINHOLE EYE AND OBJECTIVE DVORAK-T-NUMBERS. THE INTENSITY FORECAST
HAS BEEN A CONSERVATIVELY ADJUSTED ACCORDINGLY AND THE INITIAL AND
12 HOUR WIND RADII HAVE BEEN EXPANDED. NO CHANGE IN FORECAST TRACK
IS INDICATED.

LOL...
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744

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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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