Sunday, June 4, 2017

How to double the biological productivity of the ocean!

I am continuously disappointed to see that nobody is discussing one of the biggest potential solutions to the future world food crisis. The action I propose is to increase the biological productivity of the ocean. As I see it we ought to be able to double the amount of phytoplankton - single celled algae and the like - currently growing in the ocean by means of artificial upwellings of ocean bottom water.

The point of this is that in the ocean *shit sinks*. This simple fact is what limits the amount of life in the ocean because the average depth of the ocean beyond the edge of the continental shelf is about 4km. Sunlight is absorbed by sea water at the rate of about 90% per 75 metres of depth. Ie only 1% gets to 150m down, 0.1% gets to 225m, 0.01% gets to 300m, and so on. So at the bottom it is pitch black but that is where all the plant food goes to. Without hurricanes and tropical cyclones to stir up the waters now and again or cold currents bumping into the edge of a continental shelf or the odd island chain, the oceans would be pretty much devoid of living things.

What we humans need to do is create artificial upwellings through the generation of centrifugal surface currents - in effect, upside down vortices. This can be achieved using very simple technology in the form of wind driven pontoons linked end to end in great circles. Each such floating circle would need to be at least 4km across, to be on a par with the ocean depth and so 13km or more in circumference. By using wind and wave energy these pontoon rings can be made to circulate continuously and thus drag surface water around with them; centrifugal inertia of this moving surface water will take it outwards and water from below will come up to replace it inside the ring.

This process will lead to cold, nutrient rich, bottom water rising to the surface and mixing with warmer water at the surface, and being heated by daytime sunlight. Vastly more phytoplankton will be able to grow near the surface which will both sequester far more carbon dioxide than currently *and* provide food for far more animal life than currently.
In other words this is how we can sequester carbon dioxide, combat ocean acidification, and sustainably support more than enough fish to supply protein for the extra billions of people *and* regrow ocean ecosystems.

IMO this is a no-brainer!

[copied from my post to Facebook group
Tired of Climate Change Deniers? "]

Saturday, July 11, 2015

World seabird populations in catastrophic decline - The Scotsman

The Scotsman - Sat 11 July 2015 
ABC Science
 Some of their key assertions:
"WORLD seabird populations have suffered a staggering 70 per cent drop over the last 60 years, according to new international research. "
 "This means around 230 million seabirds have disappeared across the globe since the 1950s."
 "The study, which analysed nearly a fifth of global seabird populations, showed overall numbers declined by 69.6 per cent since the 1950s."
                        The text of the original study can be found at PLOS ONE     
Here is their Fig. 2:
Fig 2

Paleczny M, Hammill E, Karpouzi V, Pauly D (2015) Population Trend of the World’s Monitored Seabirds, 1950-2010. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0129342. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129342

I came across a link  to The Scotsman article in the FaceBook group I Friggin Love Jellyfish [You get to see some beautiful jelly fish photos]

For what it is worth below is the response I posted there.

Mark A Peaty As far as I can see there is something that can be done: Feed the Friggin Fish! Sea birds need fish to eat, big fish, marine mammals, and humans need fish to eat and the number of humans is increasing still. Our hominid population will top out at about 11 billion apparently [based on 2 kids per couple which is becoming the trend world wide it seems].

All the above carnivores need fish to eat and those fish need to eat smaller fish, and so forth down the food chain and the smallest fish eat krill and the like and the smallest crustaceans eat phytoplankton.
So, to feed the food chain requires nourishing the phytoplankton and other algae. What those plants need is lots of nutrient laden water. Now the thing which limits the amount of ocean biomass is, IMO, the fact that In The Ocean, Shit Sinks out of the reach of sunlight.
If anyone is disposed to question this simple proposition consider this:
1/ The surface of the ocean is not covered in floating feces, and
2/ the abyssal plain has a layer of mud [AKA "ooze" which has a better sound to it I think] but this layer of oceanic ooze is always thinnest at and near the mid ocean spreading centres and thickest - many metres thick - at those regions of ocean bottom furthest from the spreading centres.
Normally the only way nutrient rich bottom water gets to the surface is when a deep ocean current runs into a continental slope or island chain or when strong cyclonic winds create an upwelling. So what *we* need to do is create lots of artificial upwellings.
That is not rocket science! It just needs *us* to make it happen! It has already been demonstrated that wave power can be successfully harnessed for this task 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Web links on the subject of ocean upwelling

 This has some very practical suggestions for the most effective and economical methods of pumping

 Very brief but shows examples of simple wave powered uplifting tubes
             Nitrogen fixation-enhanced carbon sequestration in low nitrate, low chlorophyll seascapes
             This is one of the links in Woods Hole OCB document

Must be downloaded as a .pdf file. The 'perpetual Salt Fountain' is an experimentally verified flow of cold deep water *up* a pipe, driven by the lesser salinity of water within the pipe because the salinity of the surface water is higher, due to its higher temperature enabling more salt to be dissolved. 
The system obviously has to be primed by cold water being sucked/pumped into the tube first but thereafter it seems that the upwards flow will continue indefinitely.  [To me that is counter intuitive but that of course is why they were doing the experiment.]
Simple and straightforward experiment in wave powered AU in progress off Hawaii; it works.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dr Sylvia Earl - what to do about the loss of fish populations

I just today heard a session on ABC Radio National featuring an interview with Dr Sylvia Earl who has been studying the ocean for many decades. It was fascinating to hear and it was quite salutary to hear how in the 1960s and '70s   Dr Earl was having to push to get herself included on expeditions just because she was a woman.

One thing that worried me though is I heard nothing from Dr Earl or the interviewer, etc, about actually feeding the fish! Dr Earl described how so many regions of the ocean and the rivers flowing into it have been irrevocably changed by human plundering and polluting. One suggestion offered was to stop eating fish.   Well I have to say I cannot bear that thought.

What we need to do is Feed the Fish!  
This can only be done on a scale large enough to be useful if we, the human beings of this planet, start drawing up nutrient rich water from the ocean bottom. 
  • Remember folks: In the Ocean -- Shit Sinks
That is why all the good stuff that ocean plants need is down there, four kilometres below, hidden away from the sun light so neither the planktons nor the multicellular plants can get at it. 
But we can! We can bring it up to the surface.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

I have been trying to draw some diagrams to explain what I think we should be doing. I will scan these and post them here in the next day or so.
Meanwhile, here is a link to similar minded thinking displayed on Wikipedia.
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

  • A thing to remember is that none of this is rocket science!
    This is all doable with technology already available and very well understood.   
  • As the Wikipedia article shows, this is a 'base load' technology; it will just hum along in the background for ever and a day. This power source will keep insulated ice in a frozen, solid, less-dense-than-seawater, state for hundreds if not thousands of years. 
Notice that the authors of the article are pointing to all the things I have mentioned in the description in the side panel at the right hand side of this blog page

Monday, February 4, 2013

Society for the Reversal of Ocean Acidification & Creation of Ocean Havens

I have never done anything like this before but it is becoming clear to me that the only way to get this project under way is to act as if it is already happening.

  Society for the Reversal of Ocean Acidification and Creation of Ocean Havens

is hereby proclaimed.

The acronym for that would seem to be SoROACOH which could be pronounced in a manner close to the name of  Sirocco, the dry wind from the Sahara which blows into southern Europe.  Non native speakers of English might want to pronounce the "A" sound as well. Of course anybody who participates might want to improve on the name; such suggestions will be welcome. Note, my daughter Gwyneth vetoed ".. Creation of Ocean Cities"  on the grounds that bogans [= persons with more time than wits on hand] would add a "K" to the end of the initials. She is probably right.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Last Great Global Warming - article in Scientific American Magazine

The July 2011 issue of Scientific American Magazine contains an article describing what is now known about  a period of global warming that occurred about 56 million years ago.
During that period:
"in the course of a few thousand years—a mere instant in geologic time—global temperatures rose five degrees Celsius, marking a planetary fever known to scientists as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM.
 "Climate zones shifted toward the poles, on land and at sea, forcing plants and animals to migrate, adapt or die. Some of the deepest realms of the ocean became acidified and oxygen-starved, killing off many of the organisms living there. It took nearly 200,000 years for the earth’s natural buffers to bring the fever down."

 Image: Illustration by Ron Miller [from the magazine]
The article's author   describes how the researchers went to the island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago within the Arctic circle to retrieve drill core samples saved from earlier exploration work done during commercial mineral exploration. These sediment samples contained material which had been deposited throughout the PETM period and which had since been undisturbed underground until the drillers arrived.

What the deposits revealed, in summary, is that 
  • "Global temperature rose five degrees Celsius 56 million years ago in response to a massive injection of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  • That intense gas release was only 10 percent of the rate at which heat-trapping greenhouse gases are building up in the atmosphere today.
  • The speed of today’s rise is more troubling than the absolute magnitude, because adjusting to rapid climate change is very difficult."
The fossils in the mineral records indicate that absorption of carbon dioxide by the ocean caused significant acidification which happened then much slower than is happening now. Even so, something like 30 percent of all species of ocean flora and fauna die out.
"[the] evidence suggests the pace of Earth's most abrupt prehistoric warm-up paled in comparison with what we face today. The episode has lessons for our future."