Dead seas

Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?
Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,
in that gray vault. The sea. The sea
has locked them up. The sea is History. [1]

The most terrifying thing I’ve read all year

“…Scientists may have found the most devastating impact yet of human-caused global warming — a 40% decline in phytoplankton since 1950 linked to the rise in ocean sea surface temperatures.  If confirmed, it may represent the single most important finding of the year in climate science.”

The oceans are dying.

Faster than we anticipated.

Abstract of the Nature paper that spells it out:

“…In the oceans, ubiquitous microscopic phototrophs (phytoplankton) account for approximately half the production of organic matter on Earth. Analyses of satellite-derived phytoplankton concentration (available since 1979) have suggested decadal-scale fluctuations linked to climate forcing, but the length of this record is insufficient to resolve longer-term trends. Here we combine available ocean transparency measurements and in situ chlorophyll observations to estimate the time dependence of phytoplankton biomass at local, regional and global scales since 1899. We observe declines in eight out of ten ocean regions, and estimate a global rate of decline of ~1% of the global median per year. Our analyses further reveal interannual to decadal phytoplankton fluctuations superimposed on long-term trends. These fluctuations are strongly correlated with basin-scale climate indices, whereas long-term declining trends are related to increasing sea surface temperatures. We conclude that global phytoplankton concentration has declined over the past century; this decline will need to be considered in future studies of marine ecosystems, geochemical cycling, ocean circulation and fisheries.”

To translate: 

  • “Marine ecoystems” refers to the fact that phytoplankton are crucial to the food chain
  • “Geochemical cycling” refers to the fact that phytoplankton generate about 50% of the oxygen produced by plants. They also absorb CO2 as they grow and reproduce (and where does that CO2 stay, well….)
  • “Fisheries” refers to the fact that we may see the extincton of species we depend upon for food.

[1] Derek Walcott, The Sea is History

2 thoughts on “Dead seas

  1. Colorado Bob says:

    Watching –
    Saw your post @ Climate Progress . I followed the Black Saturday event even before the really big fire . I’ve followed several of these mega fires going back to 2006. They all follow the same pattern heat with wind , then fire and death. I people who live through them all say the same thing , ” We’ve never seen this before “. Your fires had one thing I saw, that the others didn’t ………. The fruit bats in the northern suburbs of Melbourne were falling out of the trees dead, that Friday before Black Saturday.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Indeed, look at Russia at the moment. Dozens dead, fires across the country, record drought and crop failure. There goes the fantasy of us somehow “moving north”.

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