Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sardines May Prevent Toxic Gas Eruptions off the California and African Coasts

12.01.2005


Milky, turquoise-colored “dead zones,” some as large as the U.S. State of New Jersey, that are appearing repeatedly off the coast of southwest Africa, may be a sign of things to come for other areas of the coastlines of the eastern Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Toxic gas eruptions, bubbling up from the ocean floor, kill sea life, annoy human seaside residents, and may even intensify global warming. But the simple sardine may save the day, according to a study from the Pew Institute for Ocean Science.



In an article published in the November issue of Ecology Letters, authors Andrew Bakun and Scarla Weeks compare several areas around the world where strong offshore winds cause an upwelling of nutrients in the ocean and thus a population explosion of phytoplankton, the microscopic plant life that drifts through the ocean. Studying the waters off the coast of Namibia, the scientists found the resulting overproduction of phytoplankton died and sank to the bottom, and the decaying organic matter released copious amounts of methane and poisonous “rotten egg” smelling hydrogen sulfide gas.

As methane is 21 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, the resulting climate change may intensify this upwelling process and the possibility of even larger and more plentiful eruptions.


One key that may keep this situation from worsening, the authors say, is to prevent the overfishing of sardines, which can devour large quantities of phytoplankton. “The region in question formerly hosted a large population of sardines that have been overfished,” says Bakun, a member of the Pew Institute and professor of marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “It is at least encouraging that a minor resurgence of sardine abundance coincided with a noticeable temporary hiatus in eruption frequency off Namibia in 2002.”

Bakun and Weeks also warn that the areas around Cape Mendocino, California, and Cape Sim, Morocco, may be dangerously close to the “tipping point,” possibly ripe for phytoplankton population explosions followed by their gaseous demise. “This study demonstrates that overfishing one species of fish, such as sardines, can profoundly alter an entire marine ecosystem in ways that may be difficult or impossible to reverse,” says Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Sciences and an expert on fishery science and management.

Pew’s Chief Scientist Elizabeth Babcock adds, “The California sardine fishery has recovered somewhat since it peaked in the 1940s and was depleted by the early 1960s. We hope that the fishery can continue to recover to help prevent such a terrible situation from occurring.”

The paper evaluates 16 areas around the world, including four along the Pacific coast of North America, for the risk of developing these gaseous eruptions. To learn more, visit the Ecology Letters website at http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=1461-023x.
Bakun’s 42 years in marine science includes scientific positions with the International Indian Ocean Expedition, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, France’s Institut de Recherche pour le Dévelopment (IRD), and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate Prediction.

A well-known South African scientist, Weeks has spent the past decade as the principal developer of satellite ocean color information for southern Africa. Pew Institute for Ocean Science, in partnership with the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, was founded in 2003 thanks to a multi-year grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to undertake, sponsor, and promote world-class scientific activity aimed at protecting the world’s oceans and the species that inhabit them. The scientific role of the Institute is to increase public understanding of the causes and the consequences of problems affecting the marine environment. The conservation role is to promote solutions to these problems.

Kate Stinchcombe | alfa
Further information:
http://www.pewoceanscience.org
http://www.blackwellpublishing.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>