[Coral-List] Pipes hung in the sea ...

Tim Hayes tim at midlandreefs.co.uk
Thu Oct 11 12:19:48 EDT 2007

Dear Coral-listers,

I knew something was stirring in the depths of my memory about why  
this project might have possibilities beyond Lovelock's basic idea.

Last year I came upon a piece of research that indicated that there  
might be a problem regards the supply of nutrients utilised  
phytoplankton as a result of higher surface water temperature.
If this is indeed the case, then there may be some utility to the  
"pipes hung in the sea" after all.

I'm afraid I've not been able to find my source material but here's  
the short news piece I generated for an aquarium magazine.

Your comments, as ever, would be gratefully received.
Climate Change and the Oceans.

There’s worrying evidence emerging from a recent study by the  
University of Amsterdam that oceanic plankton could be endangered by  
global warming. This study, led by Professor Jef Huisman, shows that  
as the sea surface temperature rises due to climate change that there  
will be a reduction in the upward movement of some of the nutrients  
that phytoplankton rely on.

The mechanism behind this is that the higher temperature of the  
surface water results in greater temperature stratification, this is  
where the warmer water sits on the colder, deeper water, in distinct  
layers, preventing the upwelling nutrients from reaching the  
shallower water inhabited by phytoplankton. Although phytoplankton  
are primarily reliant on sunlight for nutrition they do also need  
various elements such as iron, nitrogen, and phosphorous to survive.  
This study was recently published in Nature and reported how the  
computer predictions of the impact of increased temperature were  
compared against measurements taken in the Pacific Ocean and found to  
provide an accurate model of how nutrient movement is being interrupted.

If these findings prove to be universally applicable across the  
oceans of the world then the implications for the entire marine  
environment are grave, given phytoplankton’s role at the heart of the  
marine food web.

It’s not just the marine environment that would be endangered in this  
situation. Phytoplankton take up huge amounts of carbon dioxide  
during photosynthesis and play an extremely important part in locking  
up this gas, which is one of the most important factors in climate  
change. Without this greenhouse gas being sequestered by  
phytoplankton, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would rise,  
hastening global warming.

Tim Hayes
Midland Reefs

More information about the Coral-List mailing list