The Hot Zone

Toxic Waters

By Alison Hawkes Remember the old idea that we could escape climate change by dumping a bunch of iron into the ocean? Iron “seeding” or “fertilization” rests on the notion that iron could be added to the nutrient-deprived deep sea to cause massive phytoplankton blooms, which would capture carbon and, as they died, sink it to the ocean floor. Sounds good, except many people have gotten cold feet over human-induced iron seeding – after all, it seems like too much tampering... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on March 16, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Sparkle of the Sea

By Alison Hawkes This just in from NASA’s Aqua satellite: a giant phytoplankton bloom in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Pakistan. Phytoplankton bloom in Arabian Sea The green swirls are, of course, the phytoplankton, which are individually microscopic but combine in huge numbers to form algae blooms like this one. Blooms are common during monsoon season, when strong winds blow across the ocean towards land causing the upwelling of cold seabed water that’s chalk full of nutrients. The... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on March 8, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Bull in China Shop

By Alison Hawkes Methane first came to the world’s attention in relation to global warming in the form of a snicker. Flatulating cattle were what we were supposed to fearful of? Vegetarians cited it as proof that a meat obsessed diet was ruining the planet, while almost everyone else with a sense of humor paused and then returned to worrying about seemingly more serious sources of greenhouse gas emissions. But this week attention was turned back to methane in a study published in the journal... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on March 6, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, The Oceans


by Erica Rex Last time, I wrote about the importance of accurate measurement.  We can’t measure some aspects of climate change because we don’t have the technology to do it.  Sometimes, applying technology we already have in a different way gives us new insight. Take glaciers, for instance. Some of the most graphic examples of global warming are found in pictures of receding glaciers. Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is one of the most dramatic. Compare these photos from 1993 and 2000... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on November 19, 2009 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans


by Erica Rex Like it or not, ocean acidification will reverberate through our economy and food supply, in the form of lost habitat, and drastic changes in kinds and densities of certain species. Plankton, which are the the backbone of the marine food chain, have been severely affected.  As the bellweather species of the ocean ecosystem, the fate of plankton – there are thousands upon thousands of varieties – determines the fate of all sea-dwelling life. I stopped eating sushi a few... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on October 15, 2009 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans


by Erica Rex For finfish, direct impacts of ocean acidification may be limited. On the other hand, there are many unknowns: for balance and orientation finfish use calcareous structures in the inner ear (otoliths). How will otolith formation be affected or how will ocean acidification impair, directly or indirectly, the fertilisation success or developmental stages, particularly for indirect developers and broadcast spawners? For instance, salmon yearlings prey mainly on pteropods, which may be among... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on October 12, 2009 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans


by Erica Rex A few facts:* • The ocean has absorbed fully half of the fossil carbon released to the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. • Measurements carried out by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and NOAA demonstrated that the upper few hundred meters of the South Atlantic have higher carbon concentrations now than in 1993. • Ken Caldeira, an oceanographer at the Carnegie Institution of Washington has done studies suggesting that within... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on October 9, 2009 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans


—by Erica Rex Until recently, ocean acidification was the quiet step-child lurking in the corner of the climate crisis. Earlier this month, the Expert Panel on Ocean Acidification, organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, and the UN Foundation, met at UN Headquarters, to bring to light some of the affects of ocean acidification on marine life and ecosystems. But now that it’s out of the shadows, scientists... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on October 1, 2009 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

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