Wednesday, February 06, 2008

THE DRIFTERS

This is a planktonic collage from an algae bloom in the North Pacific Ocean put together by biological oceanographer, Mary Wilcox Silver.

It's a long way from the Southern Ocean where the icebreaker Polarstern sailed on an expedition from the Alfred Wegener Institute. The scientists mission was to obtain data on how much surface-drifting plankton algae can reduce the the carbon dioxide of the surface waters.

The expedition started in Cape Town on November 28, 2007. Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Ulrich Bathmann of the Institute, 53 scientists from 9 countries studied the biological carbon pump in the Southern Ocean. They discovered, amongst other things, that melting sea ice has created a pool of fresh water on the sea surface.

They also discovered and investigated an algal carpet drifting in the water near the edge of the sea ice. This bloom measured 700,000 square kilometres, i.e. approximately twice the size of Germany. There was a significant decrease in the carbon dioxide of the surface water. The scientists collected data from the surface bloom down the water column to the species living on the seafloor, the first time this has been done.

The Polarstern has already left for the next Antarctice expedition to record current physical and biogeochemical conditions in the Southern Ocean. It will be deploying buoys and drift units designed to sink to deep water to measure ocean currents and interactions between sea and ice, ocean and atmosphere.

This is scientific research. Killing whales is profit.

15 comments:

Brian Hughes said...

Is that the submarine from the Fantastic Voyage, fourth square from the left, fourth square down, bravely threading its way through the evil plankton in an attempt to reach Donald Pleasance (bottom left square)? I wonder why Rachel Welsh's costume in that film shrunk a bit more than everything else did?

JahTeh said...

I haven't seen that film in ages and the only actor I remember is Welsh. Saw photos of her recently as she yammered on about never having plastic work done. More glue in that body than a train modeller's workshop. Did you watch the movie or just lust after the boobs?

Ozfemme said...

It's purdy.

My son suggested we start killing the Japanese "researchers" and then see how the whales feel about that.

This earnt him a detention at school (where he said it) and a laugh at home.

JahTeh said...

Bella, I forsee many detentions for the young Padewan rebel. Give him 'Moby Dick' to read, the whale wins.

Fleetwood, that film was made in 1966 and most of the actors are dead. I looked it up and found out that Zsa Zsa Gabor is still alive and 91 today, I'm easily diverted.

Bwca said...

the patchworked planktons are just gorgeous, Mary Wilson is a bloomin' star, and Zsa Zsa is no longer blooming, but she sure was a star.
hughsie's pretty amusing too

Brian Hughes said...

By an odd coincidence, I watched the Fantastic Voyage back in 1966...and I'm not dead either. (Almost, but not quite.) I telephoned Zaa Zaa to congratulate her, but apparently she was at a cross-dressing party with Sedgwick, holding his stick for him. I'm hoping that wasn't a euphermism.

Bwca said...

Polar expeditions: Hobart dock is full of the Antarctic vibe with icebreakers n stuff.
Because it is a DEEP-water port it also has those 20-storey floating-resort cruisers, so the juxtaposition is a sight.

GreenSmile said...

if they dust a tract of ocean with powdered iron, a critical and limiting nutrient in most open ocean waters, there is an explosive bloom that sucks up a lot of CO2...the ocean turns green.

Ozfemme said...

*was just about to say something but is also easily diverted and has gone to google Padewan*

Jayne said...

Scarily like the plot of Clive Cussler's book Sahara.
Rachel's costume shrunk along with her waist when she had those 2 pesky ribs removed...and coz Great Aunt Hepzibah told me, I know it's true :P

JahTeh said...

Welcome back Greensmile. Iron seeding has it's limitations as the area is usually devoid of silica as well. Oceanus, the online magazine of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has just done a series of six articles on iron seeding. I've been following this this 2002 and now there's enough data to form theories.

Fleetwood, I think they call her Ga Ga now and if she's holding anything of Sedgwick's, she is.

Bwca what are you doing oggling icebreakers?

Oz, 'StarWars', light sabres, Jedi Knights and Death Stars. Not to mention Harrison Ford when he was droolworthy.

Not too far wrong, Jayne. Along the west African coast the dead plankton sink to the bottom of the sea and decompose to cause nitric oxide and methane to explode to the surface where it can kill birds and seals. I've got a post half done on that now that you've reminded me and with MODIS images.

JahTeh said...

Sorry, that should be nitrous oxide.

Maria said...

That would make a fantastic wallpaper or bedspread. Hmmm.

JahTeh said...

Maria, it makes a fantastic computer wallpaper.

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