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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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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1170. Joshfsu123
11:59 AM GMT 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.

But anywhere from North Florida to South Florida is still fair game for rain... hopefully North Florida though! Would help not only our area but South Georgia and their fires as well.

I have a hard time believing this will develop into a tropical system though as once it enters the Gulf of Mexico, shear will be too strong to develop into a pure tropical system. I expect to see a hybrid develop in the gulf instead.
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1169. Patrap
7:04 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
42056 Buoy has the numbers..Link
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1168. kmanislander
12:03 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
I am wondering whether the upper air feature on the Gulf Coast will pick up this system. So far it does not appear to be reacting to it
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1167. kmanislander
12:00 PM GMT on May 31, 2007
Hi H23

Conditions aloft are much better than yesterday and improving quickly. Take a look at the shear map with my 11:57 post
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1166. HurricaneGeek
7:57 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
thanks StormW..
www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/TROP/trop-atl.html
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1165. Patrap
6:59 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Its actually a big ol trough..not really a ULL...I kinda seem to want tha Carb Low bugger to get going.Dont want it to linger and miss the push Ne.
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1164. hurricane23
07:55 EDT le 31 mai 2007
Good morning,

We now have real evidence of a surface low developing which is at 1006mb in the NW caribbean and overall look for invest by NRL within the next couple of hours of it persits.Conditions aloft aren't to favorable but iam still still thinking it may allow for the formation of a TD or at most a TS.

Persistence is key.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13839
1163. IKE
6:57 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Posted By: Patrap at 6:51 AM CDT on May 31, 2007.
Its the sw flow around that ULL that will guide the LOW/storm to Fla for some much needed rain.


Good!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1162. kmanislander
11:57 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Hi Pat

Well, just yesterday we were all saying watch the NW Caribbean for any possible action and here we go
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1161. kmanislander
11:55 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Big high building overhead the system now but currently centered just S of it. Really pouring here now and very dark out.Completely socked in

Link
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1160. Patrap
6:54 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Morn Kman..tropical air mass in place
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1158. Patrap
6:51 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
NOLA NWS this am....Link
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1156. kmanislander
11:49 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
good morning again

Continuous rain here now but not very heavy. pressure is 1010.9 and steady with winds out of the SSE @10

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1155. Patrap
6:50 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Its the sw flow around that ULL that will guide the LOW/storm to Fla for some much needed rain.
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1154. Patrap
6:48 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Atlantic Basin WV loop...Link
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1153. IKE
6:47 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
That 60 hour wind model keeps the strongest winds heading toward north Florida...interesting. I assume the ULL is leading to the shear in the gulf.
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1152. HurricaneGeek
7:43 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
Good morning everybody...would a recon fly in or would it be unnessercy
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1151. Patrap
6:42 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
The 60 hour GOM wind model..wave,SSts,current too....Link
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1150. Patrap
6:40 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Not far...its the ULL that will keep the low in check as it slides nne in time.
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1148. IKE
6:38 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
I see that ULL...wonder where it's suppose to go?
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1147. Patrap
6:37 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
One inhibiting factor is the ULL now near the La. coastal area.
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1146. IKE
6:35 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Here's a portion of the 8:05 am EDT tropical weather discussion concerning the new Caribbean low....


"The Caribbean Sea...
all the numerous strong showers and thunderstorms in the eastern
Pacific Ocean...from 10n to 15n between Central America and
94w...are not related to Tropical Storm Barbara. This rain in
the eastern Pacific Ocean is related to a middle to upper level
cyclonic circulation center over interior sections of Central
America. A 1006 mb surface low pressure center developed at
31/0900 UTC near 19n87w near the Banco chinchorro...just east
of the Yucatan Peninsula. A trough GOES from the low center
to El Salvador near 13n88w. Numerous strong showers and
thunderstorms are from 16n to 21n between 80w and 86w."
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1145. IKE
6:32 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Thanks for the info StormW...I see what you're saying....should be easier to see soon on a visible.

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1143. Patrap
6:24 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
GOES IR Loop of Gulf of Mexico Link
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1142. Patrap
6:24 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
GOES Water Vapor Loop of Gulf and Caribbean Link
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1140. IKE
6:12 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
As soon as the sun comes up it might be easier to tell. Do see a spin north of the Yucatan...just off of the coastline.
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1139. WPBHurricane05
7:10 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
Good morning StormW, weatherboykris.
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1138. IKE
6:09 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
The low itself must be predicted to form around the Yucatan peninsula..maybe off of the north coast?
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1137. weatherboykris
11:08 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
The 00z GFS was forecasting tropical storm force wind gusts in South Florida with the system.Good morning guys,BB in a few hours.
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1135. WPBHurricane05
7:03 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
Link 1
Link 2
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1134. HIEXPRESS
11:02 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
N Fl, S FL, Straits, They're all right, when its sheared apart, little pieces will be scattered all over the ocean at different altitudes.
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1133. HIEXPRESS
10:40 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
The vis is up & it has an L. Please, no one say "pinhole eye". Yet.
GOM VIS
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1132. IKE
5:59 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Agree that it's a crap shoot. Big differences. Watch us up here in the panhandle get nothing from it. Time will tell.
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1131. WPBHurricane05
6:55 AM EDT on May 31, 2007
I'm gonna take the average of the models and say Central Florida.
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1130. IKE
5:54 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Latest CMC has it crossing north Florida. UKMET...southern Florida.
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1129. IKE
5:48 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
06 UTC GFS has the low crossing SE Florida...big difference..Link
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1128. IKE
5:43 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
06 UTC NAM has a 1004 mb low making landfall in the Florida panhandle by Sunday...rains throughout Florida! Link>>>Link
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1127. StoryOfTheCane
10:41 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
it has dropped .13 inches in 16 hours, thats pretty decent
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1126. StoryOfTheCane
10:41 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
why is NOAA calling it an invest? for kicks?
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1125. IKE
5:36 AM CDT on May 31, 2007
Pressures are falling off at buoy 42056 at the Yucatan basin...down to 29.76 and falling. Winds SE...gusting to 25.3 knots. Low pressure around?
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1123. StormJunkie
9:23 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Morning all

I see that there is a nice blob of convection where this low should be developing. Wonder if we will get the L on the surface map today? You can find a large detailed surface map from here.

The CMC has been locked on to the same track for quite a while now and it looks like the GFS has shifted a little N with this feature.

Got to get to work. Y'all have a great day.
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1122. StoryOfTheCane
9:26 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
05 30 1650 ENE 17.5 19.4 3.3 5 4.7 ENE 29.90 +0.01 79.9 84.0 77.0 - - -
05 30 1550 NE 13.6 15.5 3.0 6 4.8 E 29.90 +0.02 80.2 83.8 75.9 - - -
05 30 1450 ENE 11.7 13.6 3.0 7 4.7 E 29.90 +0.04 80.4 83.8 76.8 - - -
05 30 1350 NE 1.9 3.9 3.3 5 4.8 E 29.88 +0.04 79.0 83.7 75.6 - - -
05 30 1250 SSE 9.7 19.4 3.3 5 4.7 ENE 29.88 +0.04 76.6 83.8 73.6 - - -
05 30 1150 ESE 7.8 9.7 3.6 7 4.9 E 29.85 +0.02 82.4 83.8 76.5 - - -
05 30 1050 ESE 11.7 13.6 3.9 7 5.0 E 29.84 +0.00 82.2 83.8 76.6 - - -
05 30 0950 ESE 11.7 13.6 4.3 7 5.0 E 29.84 +0.00 81.9 83.8 75.9 - - -
05 30 0850 ESE 9.7 13.6 4.6 7 5.0 ENE 29.83 -0.04 81.0 84.0 77.2
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1121. StoryOfTheCane
9:26 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Wind Direction (WDIR): SE ( 130 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 21.4 kts
Wind Gust (GST): 23.3 kts
Wave Height (WVHT): 6.6 ft
Dominant Wave Period (DPD): 6 sec
Average Period (APD): 4.8 sec
Mean Wave Direction (MWD): E ( 93 deg true )
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.77 in
Pressure Tendency (PTDY): -0.07 in ( Falling )
Air Temperature (ATMP): 79.5 F
Water Temperature (WTMP): 83.7 F
Dew Point (DEWP): 75.0 F
Heat Index (HEAT): 83.8 F
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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.