Ocean Survival is Our Survival
The oceans are dying. This is not a new thing, it happend several times in the world's history. The causes have differend but one recurring trigger has often been rapid climate change, either warming or cooling. We now experience warming due to CO2 emissions. According to some experts Global Warming should be called Ocean Warming, as 80% of the heat ends up in our oceans. The problem is that without living oceans most life on eath can't exist. So how could this process lead to our extinction?
Similarities in previous extinctions
Extinctions through the ages (showing percentage of marine life that went extinct)
|Extinction||How Long Ago||Probable Cause|
|End–Ordovician extinction event||545 mln||Oceans anoxic. Climate changes from very warm to very cold and back to very warm|
|Late Devonian extinction||364 mln||Changes in sea level and ocean anoxia|
|Permian–Triassic extinction event||251.4 mln||Vulcanism,Warming 10 degrees, ocean anoxia and methane hydrate release|
|Triassic-Jurassic Extinction||199.6 mln||Rapid CO2 increase, warming, Methane hydrate release, Ocean anoxia|
|Toarcian Oceanic extinction||183 mln||Cooling, then warming, Anoxic oceans, 1200 ppm CO2|
|Mid-Cretaceous||80-120 mln||3 degrees warming, global oceanic anoxia|
|K/T extinction event||65.5 mln||Meteorite impact, Global cooling to near freezing|
The killer substance that will becomes abundant in the deep oceans once the currents stop is Hydrogen Sulfide, a colorless, very poisonous, flammable gas with the characteristic foul odor of rotten eggs. It will kill all that breaths it. Fumes of decomposing algae can also kill and force people away from the coast, as it did in France last year.. Hydrogen sulfide is produced by oil eating backteria. It kills any aerobic life, but can be held back in the anoxic deep water by oxygen richt top layer. There are Hydrogen Sulfide hreathing bacteria found near underwater vulcano's, no wonder they are amongst the oldest type of bacteria around. Hydrogen Sulfide can be used in fuel cells, you can actually burn it.
Article about the scar of H2S in our present species
A book was written about the end Permian extinction, more here
Gary Schaffer predicts mass dieoffs due to deoxigenation.
There are fish that appear to be prepared to deal with anoxic and toxic sludge, allowing other species to survive, namely the bearded goby
Johm Alroy sees potential dieoff due to multiple factors
The UN predicts fishless oceans!
Rising Carbon DioxideAcidification inhibits photosynthesis
Oxygen releases iron, iron supports aerobic life, no oxgen, no iron, no life Source
These anoxic events are linked to so called carbon burial, or the massive sequestration of carbon by oceanic life at the surface. This proces is supposed to be fed by the runoff of dead organic matter from land. The dead ocean's surface would have for a time been teeming with algae. Usually in the geological record one also finds a layer consisting of the ocean lifeforms that went extinct.
Acidification is cuased by the increased dissolved CO2, and is in itself a threat to many marine species.
If ocean currents stop stratfication takes place, which means the layering of the oceans become stabile, with warm and nutrient depleted water on top and cold, nutrient rich but anoxic water at the bottom. This state can persist for millions of years in which there is little chance for life to evolve.
Killing coastal algae
Natural upwellingOcean waters can be forced to the surface by winds and underwater obstacles, or simply because water is flowing down somewhere else. The above map shows some of the patterns. The so called Ekman Transport dictates that wind induced currents flow to either the right or the left side of the wind, depending on the hemisphere. If the winds cause the Ekman Transport to run away from the coast, this draws nutrient righ water from deeper below to the surface, like at the Benguela upwelling zone near Tasmania.
Today these type of upwellings are affected by climate change. Model predictions seem to be confirmed by changes in the wind based ocean upwellings near the coast of California. This kills species that depend on nutrients earlier in the season. Temerature differences as a result of absent cool deep water can be 2 degrees Celsius. Climate change is changing wind patterns, and so changes upwelling timing and locations.
At the poles the water cools considerably and becomes more heavy. It flows down and displaces the deeper water. This is then forced to travel considerable distances on the bottom of the ocean to where it is drawn up by the water moving to the poles. Loss of sea ice at the poles can thus function as a 'switch', ushering in accelerated warming. The cold deep water wells up are around the equator and in other places like the Indian Ocean. This is process is called the Thermohaline Circulation. This circulation has great importance for western Europe as it causes the relatively mild climate as equatorial warm water flows to the North along its coasts, hence the worry about cooling in Northern Europe. It also oxygenates the deep ocean.
"Detectable reductions in dissolved O2 have been observed in all major ocean basins....Both the observation-based and ocean model studies identify circulation changes as the dominant mechanism underlying O2 inventory changes." (Source)
Today the oceans flow, due to the thermohaline circulation, mixing the nutrients collected in the deep ocean to the surface and taking oxygen down to enable life in the deep ocean. There is a so called 'tipping point' at which this circulation collapses. If that happens the oceans will die. Models show our current climatic impact can weaken these currents, but not all, but in fact a weakening has been observed since the 70's. Other measurement show decreases in flow since the 50's. Related to strenght of ocean currents even the deep waters now show significant warming. Dedicated research and monitoring programs have been put in plce specifically RAPID.
Result of different predictive models show a decline in the important equatorial upwelling
Artificial Upwelling ResearchWhat is the potential of Artifical upwelling?. According to Prof. Dr. Andreas Oschlies's model it is 3 GT per year (Not sure if the capacity is maximized, but compare antropogenic production is 3.2 GT), and there is a suprising upside of a cooling effect apparently slowing decomposition on land (that reduces co2 emissions and preserves plant species and cools the poles right?). Apparently the point is that the sequestered carbon is hard to measure because it will be distributed across the landmasses in non decaying organic material, well boo hoo! Another strange claim is an increase in CO2 emission once the upwelling pumps are halted (but why would you do that?).
Angelicque White at the Oregon State University did more practical research, using wave driven pumps. She learned you need to take the water from the right debth so it has just the right combination of nutrients and dissolved gasses (which she concluded is about 300 to 700 meter deep). Co-researcher Ricardo Letelier said "These vast regions (around Hawaii) of the open ocean may be perfect for sequestering carbon". More here.
Modelling permian anoxia
Artifical upwelling has enjoyed interest for many years now. One of the first studies was by John D. Isaacs, who proposed to use wave energy to invert the density structure of the ocean and pump deep, nutrient-rich water into the sunlit surface layers. The technique has been proposed as a means to create fertile fishing grounds by Brian Kirke of the School of Engineering, Griffith University Gold Coast. Roger Handschuh Gerald Schneider Enno Sebastian Schulte proposed a design C.T. Hsiehaet al. did experiments (pipe and buoy). There is the concept of Stommel et al. of 'a perpetual salt fountain' taken up by Maruyama et al. that claims to require no extra energy. They did a numerical simulation of which they share the 'upwelling calculator' and a flowchart at their site greenupwelling.com. Japanhes been developing their so called Ocean Nutrient Enhancer mainly to create new fishing grounds. A quote:
" The results from the real sea experiment lead us to believe that the TAKUMI type artificial DOW upwelling system can be feasible to increase a primary production and make a fishing ground in case of large size system of more than 1,000,000m3/day."
Atmocean has experimented with iron fertilization and floating upwelling pumps. Their have study show the best water for drive CO2 sequestration in their location is found at a depth of 750 meter.
Then there are several other patents.
Instead of waiting for the blooms to be feed by the runoff of killed life on land, we should preemtively cause them using artificial upwelling to draw down carbon dioxide and cool the earth.
Help me continue this reseach (as pm) by donating at my website and spreading the word.
Iron fertilizationIron and nitrogen from another source could also work.
PolicyThe US government is informed and misinformed. Scott Doney testified for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation's Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard and claimed ocean stratification and increased acidification would be 'good for production', never mentioning anything about the usual accompanying extinction and is named as a reason for problems with fish stock replenishment. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/328/5985/1500 Researchers see signs that coral growth does slow, oyster larvae suffer, and plankton with calcareous skeletons lose mass. Looking into the geological past, testimony to congress by Robert B. Gagosian, President and Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution does not go further than outlining its impact on the climate. The biggest problem is not the shift in temperatures across the globe, although it would have massive impacts on where things grow and where one could survive, the whole temperature issue is trumped by the fact the ocean emissions would kill everything. The way it is discussed in above testimony is clearly misleading as it misses the point of the whole climate discussion: Human survival.
-This is a work in progress by F. Rincker-