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 Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>