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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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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1020. TheCaneWhisperer
2:42 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
The High Pressure still off the east coast still plays a big role in this game! It seems that the CMC is keeping the High Pressure rather stronger than most!
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1019. kmanislander
2:43 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
You don't suppose the remnants of the 1008 mb low that was hanging around the SW Caribbean came ashore in Nicaragua and is now poised to move back over water LOL
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1017. melwerle
2:39 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
ok - sculpting class in my garage in 10 minutes. Or...hey - sailing class *unauthorized" at the lake in the morn..you pick. Or perhaps an argument over GLOBAL WARMING (or god, she didn't say it...)
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1016. TheCaneWhisperer
2:41 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Yes Kman Your correct!
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1015. kmanislander
2:40 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
TCW
Oh ok thanks.
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1014. TheCaneWhisperer
2:37 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
"A" was yesterday Kman and "C" is Current!
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1013. BoyntonBeach
2:37 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
'cause it worked when I posted it ! The rain is moving this way my friend !
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1012. kmanislander
2:33 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
In Michael's 1:45 post the system seems to originate east of Nicaragua. Am I reading the graphic right ?
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1011. TheCaneWhisperer
2:31 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Low over Mexico traversing into the area and the area in the Caribb seem to be Limiting Barbera in the Pacific!
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1010. hurricane23
10:28 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Its still possible we can get some type of low pressure system moving out of the nw caribbean in the next 2 days.It wil be interesting to see what takes place during the next 24-48hrs.

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13841
1009. TheCaneWhisperer
2:26 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Pretty close on the CMC STL! If I were to pick a center, it would be just south and west, still over land!
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1008. kmanislander
2:21 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
From the 8:05 discussion

The surface trough over the Yucatan Peninsula will
also continue to produce convection.


Maybe if it slides out over the water something will spin up
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1007. RL3AO
9:19 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Um...radar down for maintence. Why did you post the link?
1006. BoyntonBeach
2:18 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Key West, Fl --->>> Radar --->>> Link
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1005. kmanislander
2:11 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
TCW

No problem. I referred to your post because you picked up on mine ! lol

The unsettled weather in the NW Caribbean could certainly produce a low but so far I have not seen anything to tell me that has happened
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1004. TheCaneWhisperer
2:09 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Sorry Kman! I was confused, I though you were responding to my post since you reposted it!
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1003. kmanislander
2:09 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
But hey guys lets not make a meal out of this.
I hope the model is right. I just don't see any indication of it right now LOL
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1002. kmanislander
2:08 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
MichaelSTL did and my post was in reply to his
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1001. StoryOfTheCane
2:06 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Posted by Taz:
Ground Deformation Summary: Through April 2007, continuous GPS data show that most of the Yellowstone caldera continued moving upward at similar to slightly lower rates as the past year. The maximum measured ground uplift over the past 32 months is ~15 cm at the White Lake GPS station. An example can be found at: http://www.mines.utah.edu/~ggcmpsem/UUSATRG/GPS/Site_Info/pboscat_lkwy.gif


The general uplift of the Yellowstone caldera is scientifically interesting and will continue to be monitored closely by YVO staff.



That is very interesting. This could mean that the Yellowstone Super-Volcano is getting ready to erupt again. Id bet all the money I have that this is what killed off the dinosaurs and left the oceanic creatures.
999. TheCaneWhisperer
2:05 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
I didn't circle any areas?
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998. chucky7777
2:02 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
thanx for the info everyone, i love the debates on this blog,i learn something here every time I visit,i will continue to check in here
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997. kmanislander
2:03 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Posted By: TheCaneWhisperer at 2:00 AM GMT on May 31, 2007.

Quikscat doesn't pick up winds currently over land!

The broad area of low pressure contains all of the yellows and greens in that image! Givin the satalite presentation, wind shear, time and the wide spread of the models, a broad area of Non-Tropical Low Pressure is what I hang my hat on. Benifical rains for most of the state!


The area circled is not over land
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996. TheCaneWhisperer
1:59 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Quikscat doesn't pick up winds currently over land!

The broad area of low pressure contains all of the yellows and greens in that image! Givin the satalite presentation, wind shear, time and the wide spread of the models, a broad area of Non-Tropical Low Pressure is what I hang my hat on. Benifical rains for most of the state!
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995. Tazmanian
6:55 PM PDT on May 30, 2007
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 11:37 MDT
Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Aviation Color Code: GREEN

April 2007 Yellowstone Seismicity Summary

During the month of April 2007, 53 earthquakes were located in the Yellowstone area. The largest of these shocks was a magnitude 2.1 on April 22, 2007 at 12:35 AM MDT, located about 7 miles southwest of West Thumb, Wyoming.

Earthquake activity in the Yellowstone region is at relatively low background levels. No earthquake swarms were identified in this report period.


Ground Deformation Summary: Through April 2007, continuous GPS data show that most of the Yellowstone caldera continued moving upward at similar to slightly lower rates as the past year. The maximum measured ground uplift over the past 32 months is ~15 cm at the White Lake GPS station. An example can be found at: http://www.mines.utah.edu/~ggcmpsem/UUSATRG/GPS/Site_Info/pboscat_lkwy.gif


The general uplift of the Yellowstone caldera is scientifically interesting and will continue to be monitored closely by YVO staff.

An article on another recent uplift episode at Yellowstone and discussion of long-term ground deformation at Yellowstone and elsewhere can be found at: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/2006/uplift.html
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994. kmanislander
1:53 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
And here is the QS pass that shows nothing in that area. If it is broad and weak it is certainly not at the surface. Perhaps in the mid or upper levels which would mean that it has to work its way down first. Only straight line trade winds from the E and SE

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992. chucky7777
1:52 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
that 72 hour cmc frame looks like a strong hybrid type deal there,a feature looking that good on the pic could have some gusty wind with it wouldn't you agree?????
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991. southbeachdude
1:52 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
thanks for posting the cmc...is any other model hinting at any development like that in the same time frame? I noticed the GFS is not...
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990. PalmBeachWeatherBoy
1:51 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
PalmBeachWeatherBoy - looks like most of the good soaking rain will hit northern and central florida and the upper west coast Where did you get this from ?


My imaginary friends told me

lol j/k most models have this hittin northern panhandle, and i have bad luck when it comes to rain
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989. moonlightcowboy
1:51 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
...later, Nash. Have a good sleep. I always enjoy your posts, too. You're one of several I learn a great deal from. Thanks for that.
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987. nash28
1:50 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Time for sleep for me guys and gals.

Have a good evening and I will chat with you all tomorrow.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
986. MZT
1:47 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
An interesting article about the problems BP is facing getting Thunder Horse back online. Apparently it wasn't hurricane Dennis, so much as human error in evacuating the platform which put it out of use.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/948325/troubles_run_deep_on_gulf_oil_platform/index.html

Also interesting to read just how deep that oil is. We really are searching the ends of the Earth for oil.
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985. nash28
1:47 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Not at all Moonlight. I didn't take it as a dig on Adrian at all. Also keep in mind that we are 72hrs out and so much can change in the blink of an eye.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
984. nash28
1:45 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
And that type of shallow system is what some models, namely the BAMM I believe, does well with because it is shallow in nature.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
983. moonlightcowboy
1:40 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
...no, not to bash Adrian at all. His casts are great and a great fellow. I may have skewed that unintentionally. Here, it's looked like we've been going to get a soaker, and it winds up just dampening the ground. Yet, I'm still appreciative.

And, I know FL will be glad to get even a cup full, but cloud tops do like they're thinning. Maybe not...and what do I know, not much. If it is light (hope not), the stuff south and west will soon drop the kinds of rains much needed.

...should've kept that one to myself, I guess...apologize (and no reflection on Adrian, please). Certainly, I, too, want the rain to fall!
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981. chessrascal
9:42 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
evening all! I have updated my blog so feel free to take a look.
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980. kmanislander
1:41 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Posted By: MichaelSTL at 1:35 AM GMT on May 31, 2007.

does the low that is forecast to move somewhere over Florida even exist??,

Yes; that is why the image that I posted has "Existing cyclone" at the top as well as showing that it has existed for the past 36 hours.


AHHH where exactly is it ??
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978. kmanislander
1:35 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Chucky and moonlight

The latest Quikscat pass does not show a surface low anywhere in the Gomex or the NW Caribbean. That does not mean that you cannot get rain up North but with the shear the way it is it seems that anything North of 20 degrees is just being ripped apart before it can deliver any real precip to the ground.
There is relatively low shear over the SW Caribbean and the Gulf of Honduras and it may be that something gets going there and heads North but whatever the models are hinting at has not yet manifested itself
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977. nash28
1:36 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
Hi Moonlight!! Not bashing Adrian at all here, because his thoughts and his work during the season are greatly appreciated and informative. However, this "thing" going "poof" aint happening. Not calling for a TS or major system, but I don't think FL is going to be saying, "what the hell happened?"
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
976. chucky7777
1:33 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
i stand corrected MichaelSTL thanx for clearing that up,i am learning to read these computer models i thought it was showing a tropical storm /hurricane heading straight for me,
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975. nash28
1:35 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
LOL STL!! I didn't realize you beat me to the CMC explanation:-)
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
973. nash28
1:25 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
The CMC actually does not show this as a warm cored tropical system. It has it extratropical until in crosses FL, then becomes warm-cored.

So really, the CMC is not that far out to lunch here. Just depends on how strong the shear is in 72 hrs.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
972. moonlightcowboy
1:31 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
...kman, I hear you. I sure hope the rain isn't going pooof for FL!!! Adrian said earlier that it might do just that. Lake O and really the whole state and the SE states need a great deal of rain. The lake I'm on is the lowest they've said it ever has been.

...so, I'm "wishcasting" - hoping, praying that we all get some rain relief...especially FL.
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971. chucky7777
1:29 AM GMT on May 31, 2007
does the low that is forecast to move somewhere over Florida even exist??,or is it supposed to develop in the short term????All I see is the ULL off the coast of texas that wants to be main player in the Gulf Of Mexico the next couple of days,let me hear some thoughts thanx, this blog rocks!!!!!!!!
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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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