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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869. sarepa
10:03 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
im gonna go and take a look at barbara with ma flight simulator be bak in 2 hours
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867. WPBHurricane05
5:59 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Well we don't have any invests in the Atlantic currently but the system in the GOM should bring much needed rainfall. Especially since Lake O has tied the all time record low of 8.97 feet the old record was in 2001.
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866. stormybil
9:57 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
channel 6 news in broward we are keeping close tabs on the devolping system to the south but anyhow it will be bringing alot of rain to so.fla. 2 to 4 inches or more starting on fri .
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865. IKE
4:58 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Pressures have fallen off and are lower then 24 hours ago at buoy 42056 at the Yucatan Basin...Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
862. FloridaScuba
9:45 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
south of cuba are just storms. what circ there is (which is VERY small) appears right off the nw tip of cuba, nne heading

Link
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861. Patrap
4:43 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
50 mile wide gust front here...Link
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859. RL3AO
4:42 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: sammywammybamy at 4:38 PM CDT on May 30, 2007.
Does anyone Think that that LinkThat it could become a td then Cross over cuba become a Ts and slam into Southwest Florida? What is the senerio for this now

With all respect for weather and hurricanes-Sam


No. It doesnt have 60 hours in light shear conditions to develop.
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858. PBG00
9:42 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Hey everyone..
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857. WPBHurricane05
5:40 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
sammywammybamy-

I doubt that it will develop as shear is too high, but this is expected to bring beneficial rainfall to Central and South Florida.
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856. nolesjeff
9:40 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
good evening everyone
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852. i12BNEi
9:25 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Hello all.
Looks like the center is not moving much.Pinellas county in west central florida is getting some breeze and my sand (formally known as my yard)is blowing away.

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851. StormJunkie
9:21 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Dang, did not even realize it. We have a tropical wave off of Africa. Looks to be imbedded in the ITCZ around 5N 35W and not likely to do much, but there none the less...
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850. WPBHurricane05
5:22 PM EDT on May 30, 2007

NA

Click on the image to make it larger.
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849. Patrap
4:23 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
GOES IR Loop of Gulf of MexicoLink
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848. moonlightcowboy
9:19 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Thanks, SJ. If she moves east, wouldn't that put it into the Caribbean, instead of the GOM? I know shear's been high in the GOM, but thought it was relaxing in the Caribbean.

Sure, I'm guessing that's all a long shot, but could be our next storm still. Strange things happen sometimes...remember Lenny?
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
846. WPBHurricane05
5:19 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Well your path RL3AO lies within the cone of error so it is possible.
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845. Patrap
4:18 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Its a topic some can decipher here..Im sure.Link
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844. RL3AO
4:15 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
It will need to take this path and gain some speed if it wants to make it into the GOM.

1
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843. StormJunkie
9:16 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
moonlight, I think shear is forecasted to increase across that area over the next week, but am not certain.
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842. stormybil
9:10 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
of corse by crossing over it should be downgraded but the specs show 15 n 94 west in 120 hr as ats with 70mph winds now question if that holds true and with the steering currents set would it still track east ang get stronger it is a longrange but anbyone want to post a track they think will be in play
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841. WPBHurricane05
5:09 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Thanks for the correction.

Anyway one of the more recent storm to crossover is Hurricane Cesar-Douglas
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840. moonlightcowboy
9:08 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Obviously, it's likely to lose its LLC, but isn't very possible, considering its location, little shear, that indeed it could re-emerge as Barry?
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839. RL3AO
4:09 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Normally when you have storms crossing oceans its crossing north of Panama. I doubt a storm has ever crossed the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and remained tropical.
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838. StormJunkie
9:08 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Sweet, so we could have two B storms in one year...Not gonna happen though...
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837. RL3AO
4:08 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: WPBHurricane05 at 4:06 PM CDT on May 30, 2007.
The name will be changed and it has happened before.


Not if it keeps its CoC.
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835. StormJunkie
9:06 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Evening y'all

Good question, although I highly doubt it will make the crossing intact.

So anyone know why it is taking the GFS so long to update on the FSU experimental site?
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834. WPBHurricane05
5:05 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
The name will be changed and it has happened before. But what I can remember it was from the Atlantic to the EPAC.
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833. RL3AO
4:04 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
If it made it into the GOM, it would be called Barbara if it keeps its center of circulation. And I dont believe a storm has gone from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but an Atlantic storm has gone into the Pacific numerous times.
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831. weatherboyfsu
9:01 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Hey you guys...What are you talking about? Theres nothing to be blogging about.....The fact that we could be making history with Barbara, thats nothing to be blogging about.... Im sorry i couldnt stand not picking at people....Have a good evening....
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830. stormybil
8:59 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
if barbra does go east ad makes it to the gulf as hurricane will it still be called barbra or will become barry ?. and has this ever happen before dam moonlight posted the same time lol
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829. moonlightcowboy
8:58 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
...if Barbara crosses over into the Caribbean, will it undergo a sex change and become Barry???
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
828. Patrap
3:56 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Barbara RAMSDIS Link
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826. RL3AO
3:54 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: WPBHurricane05 at 3:52 PM CDT on May 30, 2007.
And still no public advisory.


I just think the NHC is getting lazy. :)
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825. IKE
3:54 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: FloridaScuba at 3:52 PM CDT on May 30, 2007.
Things about to get interesting in Mexico.

it's ok, there isn't anyone there anymore


True...their all here at the local Wal-Mart in their SUV's.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
824. AnnOminous
3:51 PM EST on May 30, 2007
If Barbara does it Mexico (it appears she will), then at least she's only a cat 1. But that could still be bad, seeing as she's only moving at 4 mph. =O
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822. WPBHurricane05
4:51 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
And still no public advisory.

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821. FloridaScuba
8:51 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Things about to get interesting in Mexico.

it's ok, there isn't anyone there anymore
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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