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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.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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921. moonlightcowboy
11:41 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
...k, my turn, please. Why are parts of the Quikscat pics missing...even with ascending and decending? And, are times regular for saying "viewing the eastern GOM?" More aptly put, would we see the area over NOLA at the same time each day? And, do we see an area more than one time each day?

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920. WPBHurricane05
7:42 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
WPTV News Channel 5 in West Palm Beach will have there hurricane special at 8 PM.
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919. StormJunkie
11:33 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Thanks Stl!
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918. Comatose
11:32 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
(720x480 pixels)

This is the frame size for TV stations broadcasting in Standard Definition Digital Video.

I could go into the other format and resolution sizes but it would probably just bore you.
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916. TheCaneWhisperer
11:26 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
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915. TheCaneWhisperer
11:09 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Evening All!

Barbara is about to Blow-Up Again!

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914. StormJunkie
11:20 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Stl, how do you tell how old the Quickscats are? I am a little confused on that...
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913. StormJunkie
11:17 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Come on STL, wheres the fun in that. Gimme the 20,000 x 20,000; I'll pan around. Hell, give me that in a loop while you are at it...lol ☺
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912. Patrap
6:16 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
Thats Okay Scuba..its a secure Blog..5
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910. StormJunkie
11:12 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Evening yes...

You can find the CMC and most other models from here; select the first link under models.

The 850mb, Sea Level Pressure, and 200-850mb maps will tell the most concerning this system IMHO.
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909. FloridaScuba
11:10 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
oops, sorry patrap. i know i'm not supposed to acknowledge a superior in a hostile environ. that was just thanking you for the black market smokes. oh, crap.. i wasn't supposed to say that either! damn... carry on soldier
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908. yesterway
11:10 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Link to CMC please?
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907. FloridaScuba
11:09 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
thanks stl, sj and (stands at attention saluting)... patrap, sir!
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906. StormJunkie
11:06 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
hd- my bad, I think the main portion of this system is trying to get going off the coast of Honduras. i Do agree the heart of it should not be in the GOM right now, nor should it have been earlier today.
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904. FloridaScuba
11:04 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
GOES12 has a solar xray booboo Link
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903. southbeachdude
11:02 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
My Florida friends....guess what is on the long range key west radar...Link RAIN.....
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902. WPBHurricane05
6:57 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Did some looking around and here is the plan for the Hurricane Hunters:

NOUS42 KNHC 301400
1000 AM EDT THU 30 MAY 2007
VALID 31/1100Z MAY TO 01/1100Z JUNE 2007
TCPOD NUMBER.....07-007


A. 30/1800Z
C. 30/1300Z
D. 13.0N 97.0W
E. 30/1700 TO 30/2100Z
F. SFC TO 10,000 FT


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901. FloridaScuba
10:58 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
i found it

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900. Patrap
5:55 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
One Source..NOAA Geostationary Sat page Link
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899. WPBHurricane05
6:51 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
There is a very low chance that the activity in the GOM and NW Caribbean will develop. The only tropical development of concern is Barbra in the Eastern Pacific. This may cause some flooding in southwestern Mexico. I am still wondering why the NHC hasn't issued a public advisory on Barbra. Also does any one know the flight plans of the Hurricane Hunters? They might have to fly into this thing as it gets closer to Mexico.
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898. StormJunkie
10:53 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
FS, I know that they have newer models up there that are turned off waiting to be used when these fail. I am also pretty sure they are just part of the GOES sats.
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897. cajunkid
5:50 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
yea you right!

A slow drench pulling gulf moisture across

the state all the way to NC.
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896. FloridaScuba
10:50 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
heh, i look at the views from them all the time. i'm just wanting to know WHAT they are?! i'm assuming stationary orbit sats. but, how old, what do they look like? who is in charge and steers them, how? who put them there and when?

do they do multiple functions as in communications, phone, data, tv trans, military, etc?
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895. StormJunkie
10:48 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
My bad FS...That was pretty stupid huh? lmao @ myself ☺
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894. nash28
10:45 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
It matters not whether this is "tropical" or "sub-tropical" or "extratropical" in nature. The affect will be the same. Winds and rain. I hope the CMC is right. More rain with a stronger system and giving a great drenching for the Tampa area.

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893. cajunkid
5:46 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
watch the sea breeze in Cancun tonight...if there is one and if it switches tomorrow morning...that should give you a hint of whats going on
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891. FloridaScuba
10:46 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
i know where to view them SJ.. i was looking more for a definition, description. pics of the hardware, history, etc
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890. StormJunkie
10:46 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Thanks hd, and good to see ya.

I agree with that and that is what I have been wondering ever since the 12z runs came out...
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889. fire635
10:40 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Hey all.. my first post this season. The "blob" near the Yucatan wont be anything but a rain maker... it sure looks nice, though. All it needs is a little bow, because it will sure be a welcome present for us here in central florida. Im a firefighter living in Pasco County (west/central coast) and I havent seen measurable rain in weeks. Hopefully it'll put a damper on some of our wildfire threat.
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888. StormJunkie
10:44 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
That is if the GFS solution plays out 23. I think the CMC or Ukmet solution would bring more water to the state overall...
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887. hurricanedave
10:43 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
My 2 cents!!
The many swirls that have come and gone today are not the coc.
The coc is trying to form just south of cancun on the shore line.
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886. StormJunkie
10:43 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Evening FS, good to see ya.

You can find the NHC Imagery link here.
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885. hurricane23
6:40 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
NWS 18z rain outlook...

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884. cajunkid
5:38 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
I think the whole L or trough is moving generally west, but each swirl (that looks like a circulation)is getting sheared off to the NE

hows that for laymen's terms
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883. FloridaScuba
10:39 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
what ARE the "floaters" anyway? what-where, etc.

link anyone? does the view from atl f#1 mean it would be the one to aim to nola for instance?

thanks in advance
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882. StormJunkie
10:37 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Everything costs $$ FS...lol ☺
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881. StormJunkie
10:29 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
That is a little subjective and off point RL. I said nothing about a tropical system. Just a low. I just asked a few questions and gave a few of my thoughts, which may or may not be worth a hill of beans...

That said it looks as if all of the models are calling for shear to weaken just a little around the supposed low. If the shear weakens like the CMC is showing then there is a chance it could be tropical. Most of all whatever it is could bring some much needed rain to Fla/Ga if it all plays out right even if it is not tropical.
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880. FloridaScuba
10:32 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
i'm curious about something. does it cost $$ to re-aim the floater?
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879. hurricane23
6:27 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Yea the floater has been moved to the SW a bit.
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878. hurricane23
6:26 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Yea SJ somewere around 20 north and about 80-85west would seem possible.
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877. RL3AO
5:24 PM CDT on May 30, 2007
There is nothing to get SJ. Its just a blow-up of thunderstorms that will bring rain to Florida. It wont be anywhere near becoming a tropical cyclone.
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876. adrianalynne
10:25 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
looks like our blob off Cuba is now an "invest"
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875. StormJunkie
10:19 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
And this just adds to my confusion...

I am geussing that what we are watching near the Yucatan channel is not really the area this low generates from. Looks like it is still South of 20n around Honduras and over the next 24hrs or so it will make it's way to the N...

What am I not getting here?
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874. hurricane23
6:15 PM EDT on May 30, 2007
Good afternoon guys looks like overall thunderstorm activty has increased in the nw caribbean over the last couple of hours.
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873. StormJunkie
10:06 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
Good point/question SW...

I am having a hard time figuring out the difference and timing in the CMC/Ukmet outcomes and the other solutions from the likes of the GFS.

Also not sure how any of it jives with the surface map. Looks to me like the High over the Delmarva is going to move off the outer banks. As it pushes S it looks as if it is going to block the developing low. Thus forcing a more northerly track as the CMC and Ukmet imply. Although I could just be reading the surface map wrong...

You can also find that map from here.
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872. stormybil
10:11 PM GMT on May 30, 2007
but you got to admit the little blob so of cuba has been holding on for a couple of days now .
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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