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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1071. bluehaze27
7:33 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Wow, people!!! Hey Ya'll. I think I'm gonna hop on my new klr650 and head down to the Keys for sunrise. I'll probably have to dodge a shower or two but the ride should be cool (First time down there on the bike many times by car).
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1070. 0741
7:25 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
i hope our friend down in cayman islands ok those storm near him
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1068. KrazyJorge0424
7:22 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Blob
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1067. bluehaze27
7:18 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
It's about three hour down time right. So that would make it around 6am for the next image.
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1066. bluehaze27
7:16 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
I wish I could post during the day time, but my work computer is monitored. It's lonely in here this early in the morning.
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1064. bluehaze27
7:11 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
when is the down time for the satellites?
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1063. bluehaze27
7:08 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Storms have gone the opposite direction into the Pacific from the Atlantic, so I don't see why not.
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1061. bluehaze27
6:33 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
My friend told me that water was actually seeping through the window because the pressure was so low. I don't know if this is even possible, but it sounds wild. My other friend said his ears were popping all night and that the high pitched whirrrr was something else. I had friends at a place called country walk. They had to evacuate inland from Homestead and went to a house that was worse off because it was made of fiber board and they didn't know it. The second floor was ripped off the building. At my parents house, all my guitar and stereo equipment as well as hundreds of LP's were ruined. All my porno's were scattered in front of my neighbors door;) You'd be amazed at tyhe odd things one sees after a storm. I mean a whole room can be wrecked and a half empty coke can still be standing on the counter. I saw pine trees blown down one way and then wrapped around another tree when the wind shifted. My sisters window frame ceiling fan and mattresses were sucked out of her room and thrown ove the house but I only lost one small triangle window on my Datsun B210 that I left at home. I saw areas where clearly microbursts of over 200 mph just flattened whole buildings in Naranja and Cutler Ridge. The graffiti wall on the water front near the Old Burger King building had the highest storm surge at 16.9 feet. The wall was 7 feet under water. It's only a matter of time that a major storm runs a good length of the East Coast of Florida and takes out the cities of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
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1060. StormThug
12:11 AM CST on May 31, 2007
wow that sounds like a scary situation
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1059. bluehaze27
5:56 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
I just re-watched 'As It Happened:Hurricane Andrew' to sort of prepare myself for the season. I returned home from Korea 1 month after the storm hit for all the fun clean up. My parents house was virtually destroyed and it took us about three years to get whole again. Every time I see the video, I think of the experience of cleaning up and shyster contractors which was almost the worst part of the storm. My friends have all kinds of tales they went through in Country Walk and East Perrine. I can only imagine the sights and sounds while I got drunk off of a bottle of whisky in my barracks at Camp Humphreys. Amazingly, I was able to get through by phone two days latter to a friend in Homestead who had underground phone lines. In a most surreal way, while I was reading the Money section of USA Today, I came across an article about non-monetary losses like pictures, medals etc and lo and behold who is in the story but my friends dad talking of his model ships that he took months to build. I was going through a bit of shock watching the footage on tv and knowing I was going home to that a month later, so this was really a boost to my morale. Sorry for the long winded post.
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1058. StormThug
11:57 PM CST on May 30, 2007
ok thanks
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1057. bluehaze27
5:55 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
It all depends on how strong the high pressure ridge is and where the ITCZ is latter in the season. Right now, I would be looking at dying fronts getting into the gulf and spinning off a low. If, in late August, Sept, Oct the bermuda high is unbroken and very strong you will see most of the storms going under hispaniola and cuba and either into the yucatan of up into the gulf where it becomes land locked and has to hit somewhere. If the high is unbroken but of moderate intensity you may see more storms heading above Puerto Rico and Hispaniola and perhaps becoming a threat to the Bahamas, South Florida and if it crosses like Andrew, the gulf again. I don't think this is the year for the Carolinas. They've had theirs in recent history and I think Florida and the Gulf will be under threat again.
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1056. StormThug
11:31 PM CST on May 30, 2007
what kind of threat do you all think louisiana is in this hurricane season
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1055. bluehaze27
5:15 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Hello all. It looks like a good amount of rain for So. Flo. Let's hope points north of the lake get a good amount as well. I don't see it doing anything more than a good soaking. The winds we've had the last week are probably more than what we will get out of this system. I'm thinking this is going to be like 1947 with the Miami area getting two storms. A '1' early in the season and a '3' in October. Wild ass guess though (wag)
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1054. stormybil
4:59 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
looks like the little blob below 20 n.is trying to fire up again do i see puples now at this hour .
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1053. cjnew
11:47 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
HurricaneFCast

my best guess for PC to Mobile is a little under 200miles

Hey IKE! that CMC doesn't seem all that bad to me. bring on the rain lol :D
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1052. TheCaneWhisperer
4:33 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
ULL Diving down in the GOMEX should keep the significant moisture to the Central and South East! All should see some moisture this weekend though!
1051. stormybil
4:33 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
yeap lots of rain for south fla should the little blob hold together the jet stream will push towards the pinisular we can use it .
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1050. billsfaninsofla
4:13 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Terrible and rain..in the same sentence? Nope sorry, it is welcomed.
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1049. audioslave8
4:28 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Anyone know what the dealio is with storm2k website??? It has been down for 3 days now.
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1048. mermaidlaw
3:53 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Hello everyone, Hope your having a nice night!

I have been gone for 18 hours today. I am very tired, but would like to know what rain chances we have in FL. for the next few days. Can someone please tell me? THANKS!!
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1047. TheCaneWhisperer
4:07 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
BEST solution in my book!. Satalite presentation, eyy, the trough in the CATL, still there! Nothing more but soaking rain for most of Florida! GFS needs a boost! Been doing poor with cyclogenisis but, rather well with the dynamics! IMO Dynamics is all we will see out of this storm!
1046. cajunkid
11:08 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Sorry, its kinda about the weather..I can't resist
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1045. RL3AO
11:03 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Reading these comments still gives me chills. Scroll down to around 10 pm ET and keep reading.

Why did I post this? I was bored.

Dr. Masters blog, 10/18/05
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1044. TheCaneWhisperer
3:57 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
GFDL is backing the GFS right now! If you look at the run for Barbara!
1043. Jedkins
3:51 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
thankfully though we can probably throw the GFS in trash for now lol
1042. Jedkins
3:49 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
wow the GFS is really going off the deep end this evining, showing a track much different then other models and has had little consistency.

Good thing its not very trusting because the GDS latest run would be terrible bring rain to only south Florida.
1041. HurricaneFCast
3:48 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Does anyone know how Close (In Miles) Panama City is to Mobile?
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1040. Alec
11:48 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
In other words, it's written in sand....NOT stone!LOL
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1039. HurricaneFCast
3:45 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Michael- Do you have a link to that particular model run? Thanks.





Forum Giant-Register Free
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1038. TheCaneWhisperer
3:42 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Different models are good for different things! You have to realize which models are performing the best in different situations. One may do well for dynamics this week but, next week does poorly! Models are not a crutch, they are a very small piece of a very large puzzle!
1037. cajunkid
10:37 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
nm
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1036. cajunkid
10:36 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
word!
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1035. TheCaneWhisperer
3:35 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
One of the benifits of a storm in the Epac forming so close to the Mexican Coast! Bonus Model!
1034. TheCaneWhisperer
3:31 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
That is why I posted it Cajunkid! Sometimes if you look at cyclogenisis models focused on other areas you can see the general Idea of a big mess!
1033. MZT
3:28 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
That CMC forecast sure looks like Alberto's. Can they pull it off again?
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1032. cajunkid
10:25 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Cane,
the only way you can view it, is when they plug it in on an invest...unless you know of another link.

Still, if you look at what else is going on in the back ground when you run it...it seems to be hitting the nail onthe head
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1031. TheCaneWhisperer
3:18 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Seems to be pegging Barbara's Track!
1029. cajunkid
10:04 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Watch..everyone is gonna freak out tomorrow about the convection in the Bay of Campeche...not saying anthing will happen, but just watch. This trough has been moving west all day, shear has been 40knts+ lets wait and see what happens tomorrow. The GFS is flawed right now and I don't think the other models can grab things this early, too many variables.
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1028. HIEXPRESS
3:12 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Quikscat shows no closed low.

That's pretty good, but how did you know what I was going to ask?
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1027. HIEXPRESS
3:03 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Just stopped by for a minute & Whoa! 1025 posts!
So I don't have to read them all, can someone sum it up for me in 25 words or less? LOL
Do swimming fish help cause the ocean to circulate?
(Swim together, Nemo). Maybe some very small but still measurable amount. Where a delacate balance exists, those small effects can add up.
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1026. weatherboykris
3:08 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Quikscat shows no closed low.
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1025. hurricane23
10:58 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Thunderstorm activity has been rather persistent in the NW caribbean and actually has increased tonight,lets see what takes place over night.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13786
1024. IKE
9:56 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Latest NAM 00Z model run has a 1004mb low making landfall in my area Sunday...Ft. Walton Beach/Destin...Crestview/Defuniak Springs areas....Florida panhandle....Link
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1023. kmanislander
2:53 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Well I'm out of here for tonight. Lets see what tomorrow brings. Hope you all get some rain up there soon
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1021. kmanislander
2:50 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Most of the reporting stations in Honduras have pressures of 1008/9 mb except those nearer the Pacific coast. Maybe something is lurking onshore !
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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.