Sea life's importance to the climate

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:45 PM GMT on May 29, 2007

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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771. Jedkins
7:00 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Due the the upgrades made to the GFS it still appears to be havcing some issues, untill its bugs get fixed the GFS really shouldn't be trusted much, the biggest model consensus brings this low across central Florida bringing torrential rain with it, NWS is still being very conservative with only 60% rain chances for now, but I think they are handling the siuation well, they will bump them way up as well as rain forecast by saturday as long aas current trends continue.

The NAMM brings a lot of rain into Florida with this low, the NAMM tends to be somewhat drier as far as QPF goes then many models so if the NAMM looks as wet as it does thats probably a good sign.

We probably won't be able to pin down how much rain will occurr and where accurately till Flriday, by that point forecasters should have a good fix on things.
769. IKE
2:02 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Computer models...Link

NOTE: MM5FSU model is outdated from last year.
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768. G35Wayne
7:02 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
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767. G35Wayne
7:02 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
new invest??
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765. MisterPerfect
6:39 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I get it now! If we drive all the aquatic mamals and fish out of the Florida Straights, whether its by fishing, whaling, lassoing, etc., then the currents that send cooler water south through the gulfstream will be interupted and thus causing high tropical activity to combat the drought! Dr. Masters you and your colleagues are geniuses! We can save a water supply for millions of people and billions of land dwelling animals and plants just by murdering and/or driving out those insignificant aquatic harbingers! We must act fast!!! Link
Member Since: November 1, 2006 Posts: 72 Comments: 20207
764. tampahurricane
6:50 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
can someone post the computer models please thank you
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763. nash28
6:46 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Thanks for the Tampa forecast Ike.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
762. IKE
1:45 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Melbourne,Fl. extended...

"Thursday night-Sat...significant change in the pattern is expected as the
ridge in the western Atlantic breaks down Thursday night-Fri.
Meanwhile...broad cyclonic flow in the western Gulf will draw
tropical moisture northward towards the state...ultimately resulting
in increasing rain changes late this week and early this weekend.
NAM-WRF suggests an area of low pressure north of the Yucatan will
lift northward through the Gulf...which would produce beneficial
rainfall across the forecast area. However...recent trends in the
GFS indicate that a track further to the south and east is more
likely. This would keep the deep tropical moisture to our
south...with only scattered shower activity Friday and Sat as a wave of
low pressure tracks across the southern peninsula. It would not be
fair to totally rule out a wetter solution at this point as depicted
by HPC and the European model (ecmwf)...which takes the low across The Big Bend and
northeastward up the southeast coast. Given the anomalous nature of
the pattern along with the fact that the event is still a few days
out...plan at this point is to only nudge probability of precipitation up slightly from
previous forecast."...........

They don't even mention convective feedback w/the GFS...I still think north Florida is where whatever it is...comes inland.
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761. IKE
1:40 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Tampa,Fl. afternoon extended...

"Long range (friday night-wednesday)...all eye's focused on what may
develop out in the Gulf for the weekend. Models continue in good
agreement to bring a hybrid system across the state...bringing
beneficial rains out ahead of it on Saturday and possibly into
Sunday. Timing still a little uncertain...but given hybrid nature of
system prefer to keep best rain chances...60 percent...while area is
on east side of the low Saturday. Otherwise have numbers that are a
blend of 00z and 12z operational guidance."
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759. Inyo
6:39 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
the little ice age was a real cooling, it just wasn't global. It is believed that the small glaciers in the Sierra Nevada formed at that time, when it was probably cooler and wetter. Before that, there was a period called the Xerothermic where California was warmer and drier than it is now. There was also a period where it was colder and drier... so precipitation and temperature are not strongly linked in that part of the world.
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758. crankin
6:37 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
23, isn't this the norm for convection to die off over the water this time of day? Hopefully, it will kick back up tonight.
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757. nash28
6:34 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Good thing our hopes aren't resting on the convection just to the south of Cuba. Let's see if the CMC solution spins up a different Low to the NW of that area.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
755. groundman
6:30 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Has anyone read the book "The Secret". It basically says so far dwell on your problems and you will have more problems because you draw them to yourself but if you continuously try to envision good things and things as you want them they will be drawn to you. Being a realist and a skeptic this is rather hard for me to do.
BUT if this is true and all the sea life has an effect on the oceans currents then WHAT are WE doing to the worlds weather?? EGADS!!! We've conjured up a baby hurricane in our back yard!!

LOL LOL LOL Tongue in cheek totally. NO OFFENSE OK??
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754. Patrap
1:34 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
"An increasing body of observations gives
a collective picture of a warming world
and other changes in the climate system." Link

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139984
753. hurricane23
2:30 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Thuderstorm activity has continued to weaken across the gulf with the highest concentration to the south of cuba.

Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13868
751. groundman
6:25 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I agree GS, it's time, the real season is almost upon us and we haven't had anything to really get jazzed up about.
Get out the generators, grab the babies and run, run I say, to the hills for your lives.
But wait till I get back from Hattiesburg to clog up the roads! ;-D.

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750. nash28
6:24 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Well 23, I hope to hell your forecast is dead wrong. I will be extremely pissed off if W. Central FL gets nothing from this.

So yes, for the sake of f'ing rain, I am WISHCASTING a TC for W. Central FL.
I know it's not probable, but I can always hope.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
749. nash28
6:23 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Yes GS, panic should ensue.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
748. hurricane23
2:20 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
I was noteing that all the thunderstorm activity that was in the gulf earlier this morning has weakened and the heaviest convection is to the south of cuba.I think if this keeps up the HPC rain totals make sence in the very extreme southeast part of florida getting clipped by the rain.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13868
747. weatherbro
6:14 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
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745. kmanislander
6:14 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I hate to say this but it is looking more and more like a NW Caribbean rain event. We are having thunder and lightning here now and there is very heavy rain coming in from the E. The heaviest precip seems to be sliding to the E and SE over the NW Caribbean
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16397
744. nash28
6:15 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
There is no way any of us can predict what the conditions are going to be in 72hrs.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
743. G35Wayne
6:13 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Looks like Baldwin County AL is getting there relief. My dad lives there and he said it hasnt rained there in 3 weeks. I hope Tampa gets some of that.
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742. NRAamy
11:12 AM PDT on May 30, 2007


I don't think I'm up to wearing a zebra suit today....
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741. hurricane23
2:08 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: leftovers at 2:07 PM EDT on May 30, 2007. (hide)
This is not going puff by tomorrow.

If anything were to form in the caribbean weather its the SW portion or NW portion if it moves north into the gulf it will run into unfavorable conditions meaning 30-50kt windshear.I see some tropical rains at best from this mess.

Steering winds will likely keep this a southeast event.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13868
740. IKE
1:07 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: leftovers at 1:07 PM CDT on May 30, 2007.
This is not going puff by tomorrow.

I agree...I think whatever this system is will come in around the big bend area of Florida with beneficial rains. Whether it's tropical or not doesn't really matter.......the rain is.
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739. kmanislander
6:06 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
This may be the area to watch over the next couple of days

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16397
737. kmanislander
6:03 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Shear is still high over the Gomex but look at the huge swath of the W and SW Caribbean where the shear has now eased off dramatically.

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16397
735. hurricane23
1:59 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
The thunderstorm activity that was in the gulf has begun to weaken and the heaviest convection is now to the south of cuba.Looks like a extreme southeat event and it would not surprise me if the whole mess went poof by this time tommorow.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13868
734. tornadofan
6:01 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Posted By: hurricane23 at 5:25 PM GMT on May 30, 2007.
Posted By: ricderr at 1:19 PM EDT on May 30, 2007. (hide)
h23......depending on're talking as much as 5 inches of rain...while not "significant" it's a damn good start..and seeing that most of south florida derives its water from's still a darn good start.

Actually HPC has lowered the rain chances to about a little less then 3 inches for the southeast.Also i think models especially the GFS is to bullish on its rain amounts.No doupt its a good start but much more rain will be needed as far as the lake is concerned.

This may be so, but models did not predict this much rain on the Alabama/Florida border today either...

The National Weather Service in Mobile has issued a

* small stream flood advisory for...
southwestern Escambia County in northwest Florida...
southeastern Baldwin County in southwest Alabama...

* until 445 PM CDT

* at 1250 PM CDT...Weather Service radars continues to detect very
heavy rain across portions of southwestern Escambia County in
northwest Florida...and southeastern Baldwin County in southwest
Alabama. Radar precipitation estimates of 3 to 5 inches during the
late morning and early afternoon have been detected...with isolated
locations receiving up to 6 inches near and south of Lillian al.

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733. weatherbro
5:54 PM GMT on May 30, 2007

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731. nash28
5:56 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I did Ike. Probably the least likely solution, but as I have said for a couple of days now, it has been persistent.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
730. hurricane23
1:53 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Blog for what there's nothing going on out there just tropical moisture that will move NE into florida.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13868
729. IKE
12:52 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Nash...I'm sure you saw the 12Z CMC...more bullish with the system coming in in the big bend of Florida!
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728. nash28
5:51 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Unless the impossible happened like a TD forming this evening, he won't blog until tomorrow.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
727. Patrap
12:51 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
hang in there man..

My next blog will be Thursday afternoon, when the new Dr. Bill Gray/Phil Klotzbach Atlantic hurricane season forecast will be released.

Jeff Masters
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139984
726. weatherboyfsu
5:49 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I cant believe that the doc doesnt have a blog up on the activity going on in the tropics.....geeeezzzzzzzzzz.....

Im jonessen......
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724. hurricanedave
5:40 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
I see 2 swirls at or about 86.3 by 21.9
I do belive it will be moving over florida thur-friday as a open wave at best
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723. MTJax
5:45 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Slightly drier air has meant cumulus cloud development but little in the way of showers & should see the same thing Wednesday. A little better moisture Thu. should help trigger a few showers. Things still look more interesting Fri.-Sat. when virtually all forecast models indicate ingredients are coming together for the potential for more substantial rainfall for the First Coast. There are model differences which eventually will determine where the heaviest, most widespread rain will be:
SIMILARITIES include a northward moisture influx, some cooler air aloft (which increases instability), and weak upper level disturbances.......DIFFERENCES:
The most glaring difference is the possible development of a low pressure system which could be some kind of subtropical system. Some models develop a strong low while others are much weaker. Speed of the system is quite consistent at this point indicating the low to be east & northeast of Jax by Sun. which would imply our best rain chance would be Sat. & much less Sun. If the track of the low ends up being south & east of Jax then rainfall for the First Coast would be less than a farther north & west scenario.
There are also indications that much of next week could be wetter beginning about Tue. This all makes sense due to the Velocity Potential Anomalies (VPA) which show an area of "upward" motion moving across the East Pacific east all the way to Africa but is particularly strong just off the coast of Mexico & Central America. (I posted about this last Wed., 05/23...VPA link is at:
This max. in the far East Pacific might be aiding newly developed tropical storm "Adrian" in the East Pacific & another strong wave much closer to the coast of Mexico. The East Pacific hurrican season, by the way, begins May 15th.
The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is part & parcel to the VPA. Studies show the MJO is usually strongest in the Eastern Hemisphere and migrates more slowly through the Eastern Hemisphere. The MJO is not a perfect scheme to follow & can sometimes be inconsistent but if no -- or at least weak -- El Nino or La Nina conditions exist, it can be quite useful -- ala the '05 hurricane season -- in forecasting, in general terms, periods of more "active" weather & potential storm development.
The Des Moines, Iowa NWS referred to the MJO in their forecast discussion today:
If you're interested in a very scientific (yet interesting!) description/discussion of the Madden Julian Oscialltion, go to:
Mother Nature always seems to average things out -- I've said it a million times. Case-&-point: Lake Okeechobee. The 2nd largest (only to Lake Superior) freshwater
lake in the U.S. has undergone nearly irreversible & massive interference from man & occasional beatings from the weather. Hurricane seasons '04 & '05 caused Okeechobee to rise to near record levels with a large amount of algae & sediment causing a lack of oxygen. Now, the drought has dropped the water level to near record lows. But there just might be a silver lining in this cloud as the low water is allows thousands of yards of "muck" to be taken out of the lake. The story is in the St. Petersburg Times at:
I visited Lake Okeechobee last year as part of our '06 hurricane program -- first visit ever & what a beautiful place with diverse wildlife & ecology (& huge gators!). I hope to sometime take the family there for a long weekend.
Published Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:05 PM by mburesh
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722. nash28
5:43 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
FL could "possibly" get a TD or weak TS by the end of the weekend. Not sure how far north this moisture will reach, but rain is coming.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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