Plankton Cause Hurricanes! Urgent Action Required!

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

When people say that we understand the unbelievably complex climate system well enough to project scenarios out a hundred years, I point out that new things are being discovered every week. The latest scientific finding is that plankton cause hurricanes. I know it sounds like a headline in The Onion, but there it is.

Figure 1. Phytoplankton (ocean) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (land), 3 year average. Data from SeaWIFS satellite. Green in the ocean indicates the presence of chlorophyll-containing plant plankton (phytoplankton). Image Credit NASA

The study hasn’t been published, but the publishers (AGU) have this to say:

Ocean’s Color Affects Hurricane Paths

AGU Release No. 10–25, 13 August 2010

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON—A change in the color of ocean waters could have a drastic effect on the prevalence of hurricanes, new research indicates. In a simulation of such a change in one region of the North Pacific, the study finds that hurricane formation decreases by 70 percent. That would be a big drop for a region that accounts for more than half the world’s reported hurricane-force winds. …

In my opinion, the folks who wrote the headline missed the boat when they say that the color of the ocean affects hurricane paths. If their description of the study is correct (not yet published study, but description by publisher) what the study indicates is that the amount of microscopic life in the ocean affects hurricane formation. Or in other words, plankton cause hurricanes. I wonder if New Orleans residents can sue the wee timorous planktonic beasties for damages from Hurricane Katrina?

The mechanism which they propose for this increase in hurricane formation where plankton are present seems quite reasonable to this life-long sailor …

In the no-chlorophyll scenario, sunlight is able to penetrate deeper into the ocean, leaving the surface water cooler. The drop in the surface temperature in the model affects hurricane formation in three main ways: cold water provides less energy; air circulation patterns change, leading to more dry air aloft which makes it hard for hurricanes to grow.The changes in air circulation trigger strong winds aloft, which tend to prevent thunderstorms from developing the necessary superstructure that allows them to grow into hurricanes.

There’s another mechanism known to be at play as well. This is that certain common phytoplankton produce a chemical called dimethylsulfoniopropionate. Since no one can pronounce that correctly, it is always called DMSP. DMSP is an precursor chemical for the formation of aerosols that eventually become cloud nuclei. This increases cloud formation. So we have plankton helping build the clouds that cool the ocean surface.

The presence of plankton in the water warms the ocean surface. And clouds and hurricanes cool the ocean surface. What is the net effect of these two inter-related but opposed plankton-caused phenomena? Unknown, even as to sign. How does this net effect change, either annually, decadally, or longterm? Again, unknown.

Plankton emit chemicals that control the clouds in the skies, who would have guessed? And who would ever have thought that plankton would have the power to affect the formation of the world’s largest natural heat engine, tropical hurricanes? Talk about having your hand on the heat-loss throttle, control of hurricane formation by plankton has the smallest of life controlling the huge power of the largest of climate phenomena. How strange is that?

I do not bring up this study to draw any scientific conclusions from it at all. It’s far too early days for that, the study is not even published.

I bring it up to illustrate the awesome complexity of the climate, and how little we truly understand the often bizarre intricacies of how it works. Next time someone says that computers can project their tinkertoy scenarios out a hundred years, remind them that we just found out about the plankton and the hurricanes …

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63 Responses to Plankton Cause Hurricanes! Urgent Action Required!

  1. Pat Moffitt says:

    There is no doubt at least in near shore waters that algal blooms result in increased water temps. It is a shame that too often interesting findings get hijacked to sell a cause rather than allow Nature’s complexity to inspire wonder.

  2. DirkH says:

    “In a simulation of such a change in one region of the North Pacific, the study finds that hurricane formation decreases by 70 percent”

    A modeling study. I bet if they wanted to they could make it an increase by 70 percent by tuning the right parameter.

  3. Pingo says:

    All these random climate fluctuations can safely be assumed to average to zero, leaving co2′s effect plain to see /sarc

  4. starzmom says:

    It begs the question–how might Katrina have been influenced by large populations of phytoplankton in the Gulf of Mexico supported by the nutrient rich Mississippi River flowing in? Or any other hurricane in the Gulf, for that matter?

  5. Brad says:

    Great point.

    While you are at it, we still do not truly understand why the last ice age ended:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/328/5986/1652

    We are pretty dumb, remember, we are very similar organically and genetically to your family dog. Are you surprised your dog does not understand climate models? I am not surprised no human understands them either…

  6. Brad says:

    Starzmom-

    The large amount of crap flowing in from the Mississippi means NOTHING grows in the waters off its delta, they all starve from oxygen depletion. How many more hurricanes would we have if not for the crap?

  7. wsbriggs says:

    Wanta bet this doesn’t trigger off a Oil Spills Cause Hurricanes, and/or Modern Intensive farming causes hurricanes?

    The former, because of the algae and phytoplankton munching happily on the bacteria that are happily munching on the oil. the former because of the nitrogen & phosphorous flowing down the Mississippi into the GoM.

    No matter what, Man that misbegotten beast, is at fault.

    I really am pretty tolerant, but that is one religion I can’t tolerate.

  8. R. de Haan says:

    “Talking” clouds, Plankton Hurricanes, Baby Ice, there is no limit to man’s creativity.
    Watch this link to find out where the next hurricane might occur.
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=45214

  9. StuartMcL says:

    That’s all right then.

    Since 40% of phytoplankton have already disappeared through global warming:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/30/now-its-phytoplankton-panic/

    and global warming is going to get rid of a load more:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/17/botanist-claims-to-overturn-establish-ocean-phytoplankton-theory-cites-global-warming-as-a-concern-for-new-theory/

    it looks as thought we can stop worrying about hurricanes.

  10. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    Willis, thanks for this excellent post! Biologists like me have long recognized that biological factors have been passed over by the zealous climate modeling crowd, and this is very provocative and logical.

    We now witness a plethora of research regarding biological influences upon regional climate (corn in the midwest, see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/09/corn-as-a-local-climate-forcing/). There will be more I’m sure.

    Having done some work with phytoplankton, I believe that this is very plausible. The DMSP connection to climate has been discussed before, but downplayed.

  11. Wind Rider says:

    That noise you hear is the gears in politico’s heads trying to figure out how this can all be blamed on not enough people buying Chevy Volts.

  12. Jimmy Haigh says:

    Is it any stupider than when someone suggested that man made CO2 caused global warming?

  13. Pamela Gray says:

    Lag? I think they have discovered a cause-effect relationship but are thinking about it in the wrong direction. That the water becomes murky is likely the beneficial side-result of SST’s getting colder and becoming conducive to plankton development. The main result of colder SST’s is a calmer hurricane season. Colder SST’s lead to more plankton and calmer hurricane seasons at the same time.

  14. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    Here’s another WUWT post that discusses the effects of phyotoplankton metabolic products on climate:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/21/tiny-bubbles-in-the-brine-affect-the-climate-all-the-time/

  15. Jim Barker says:

    Wait a minute, I thought I read here that AGW is killing the little critters off. And that AGW is causing an increase in hurricanes. Seems to be a logical dis-connect. But wait, a logical dis-connect may be necessary to allow AGW ;-)

  16. MartinGAtkins says:

    Plankton decline across oceans as waters warm

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10781621

    If the plankton are causing hurricanes then I say good riddance to the little bastards.

  17. latitude says:

    Well we know that phyto takes up CO2, and less phyto would mean that either the oceans are taking up less CO2 or releasing it, but then they say less phyto means less hurricanes, which would mean less upwellings to feed more phyto, after they just said there’s less phyto and more CO2 causes more hurricanes………

    make sense yet?

  18. Jimbo says:

    Someone tell Gore that the science is unsettled. BTW I hope they have inputed this into their GCMs.

  19. Brad says:

    Pamela is right.

    Can we get a study of the amount of “ice” in the 15% ice number that is realy just ice drifting away from packs to be melted elsewhere. This would argue that the 30% number is the real number we should follow.

  20. I thought we have lost 50% of the plankton since 1900. How these things work is not the only thing we seem not to have a very good understanding of.

  21. RoHa says:

    Stamp out those plankton now!

  22. Wayne Delbeke says:

    Not only do microbes live throughout the ocean but now it has been discovered that they live under the earth to depths of several kilometres. The Suzuki Foundation is opposing carbon sequestration underground because it has been discovered that certain microbes LOVE CO2 and that they can use it along with iron bound in the earth to create METHANE – a much stronger GHG than CO2 and therefore IF it leaks out, then it would be even worse for the environment than CO2. Gosh, will these guys never get their heads straight? Pumping CO2 into the ground is one of the most cost effective ways we have to reduce CO2 emissions, better than hydro power, better than bio-fuels, better than nuclear, at least 10 times better than solar or wind. Yet Suzuki would oppose it on the basis that CO2 sequestered in porous rock might be found by a specific little microbe that makes methane … seems to me that might be a good thing as methane can be used as a fuel. So why wouldn’t I inject my stored carbon with the microbes on purpose and harvest the methane for fuel?

    What have I missed here?

    Wayne

    PS see item 7 on this reference: http://www.cbc.ca/thebottomline/2010/08/august-8economics-august-15wonders-of.html

  23. Max Hugoson says:

    Another “computer study/model” that shows “what if”.

    Dilbert to the Rescue!

    http://www.dilbert.com/2010-08-11/

  24. ROM says:

    It is not only ocean life that is influencing the atmosphere and weather systems and perhaps the global climate but in 2008 /9 Indian atmospheric researchers found a very high UV tolerance in three species of bacteria trapped during high altitude balloon flights into the upper stratosphere at altitudes of 6 kms to 50 kms above the surface.
    “Stratosphere Reveals New Bacteria”
    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Stratosphere-Reveals-New-Bacteria-107216.shtml

    Other research a few years ago indicated that a number of species of ocean dwelling bacteria can also act as nucleating agents for cloud water droplets.
    They use the wind and surface turbulence to become airborne from the ocean surface and then use cloud droplets as a means of dispersing during their life cycle.
    During this airborne dispersion period, the bacteria also act as droplet nucleating agents.
    None of the biological cloud droplet nucleating agents research is apparently acceptable to the warmistas as it is another factor that is totally outside of their potential ability to control in the manner in which the natural control and feedbacks that nature uses to keep the global climate centred around a particular global temperature range that is ultimately hospitable to life on this planet.
    Even admitting the existence of such natural biological control mechanisms is totally counter to the the claims that CO2 is the major factor in the control of the global climate.

  25. Tom in Florida says:

    Does anybody really know what time it is?

  26. Jeff (of Colorado) says:

    “In a simulation of such a change in one region of the North Pacific, the study finds that hurricane formation decreases by 70 percent.”

    I’m not really familiar with hurricanes forming in the North Pacific. Typhoons in the South Pacific yes, and (weak) hurricanes in the South East Pacific off California, yes. There are hurricane force winds up off Alaska and Siberia all the time, but I can’t think of any named North Pacific hurricanes and nothing with the power of the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico storms. Can someone enlighten me?

  27. Mike Davis says:

    Tom In Florida:
    Does anyone really care?

    Willis:
    I told you long ago the Butterflies in West Africa are flapping their wings about now to start the next Atlantic Hurricane. It they had a nice Spring in West Africa then we will have an active Hurricane season! ;)
    The change in water consistency makes sense and can be observed on small bodies of water also.

  28. RayG says:

    OMG, phytoplankton are on the threshold of becoming an endangered specie! Call in the EPA, we must act now before it is too late and Gaia gets mad.

  29. Richard111 says:

    I don’t understand all the excitement. James Lovelock reported this back in the 1970′s.

  30. noaaprogrammer says:

    Jeff (of Colorado) says:
    “I’m not really familiar with hurricanes forming in the North Pacific.”

    I was in my mid teens growing up in Washington State when the Columbus Day Storm (Typhoon Frieda) hit the Pacific Northwest. When it slammed into the coast of Oregon at Cape Blanco, it had sustained winds of 150 mph with gusts up to 180 mph. (My dad had just invested heavily in some insurance company that went belly up after that storm!) One can still see the results of Frieda – lots of old growth trees uprooted and now decomposing – yes giving off methane!

  31. Julian Flood says:

    The ability of plankton to affect the climate is part of the Kriegesmarine hypothesis. They also process carbon and alter its isotopic composition: some pull more heavy carbon (13C and 14C) out of the atmosphere when they are starved or stressed. The more heavy carbon they metabolise and export to the deep ocean, the more light carbon is left in the amosphere to be pointed to as evidence of human emissions being out of control.

    Does anyone know what happens to a forming hurricane if you reduce the feed-in of aerosols?

    JF

  32. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Jeff (of Colorado) says:
    August 15, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I’m not really familiar with hurricanes forming in the North Pacific. Typhoons in the South Pacific yes, and (weak) hurricanes in the South East Pacific off California, yes. There are hurricane force winds up off Alaska and Siberia all the time, but I can’t think of any named North Pacific hurricanes and nothing with the power of the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico storms. Can someone enlighten me?

    Sure, we’re nothing if not a full service web site:


    Tropical Rotating Storm (hurricane, cyclone, typhoon) Tracks Source

    w.

  33. fredb says:

    When will WUWT stop using tabloid headlines.

    The posting says plankton causes hurricanes, while the article says plankton influences the prevalence of hurricanes … there is a vast difference between the two.

    The headline used here reminds me of what I see at the checkout stand of the supermarket!

    Reply: I think you miss the literary technique being employed by Willis. ~ ctm

  34. redneck says:

    wsbriggs says:
    August 15, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    “Wanta bet this doesn’t trigger off a Oil Spills Cause Hurricanes, and/or Modern Intensive farming causes hurricanes?

    The former, because of the algae and phytoplankton munching happily on the bacteria that are happily munching on the oil. the former because of the nitrogen & phosphorous flowing down the Mississippi into the GoM.

    No matter what, Man that misbegotten beast, is at fault. ”

    WS you are much too pesimistic. As you describe the bacteria are happily munching on the oil in the Gulf, which in turn are eaten by the zooplankton which in turn are consumed by shrimp and other larger creatures. Who knows maybe in the following years the fishery will sustain record catches. And the bonus in the whole deal will be when you fry any seafood caught in the Gulf you won’t need to use oil.

  35. tallbloke says:

    James Lovelock told us that it’s the microscopic biota that control the makeup of the atmosphere 30 years ago. It’s a pity his more rcent doom mongering made him a ‘bete noir’ of the sceptic camp, because his original book, ‘Gaia: A new look at life on Earth’ is packed full of valuable info about how our climate is affected by the chemical processes dominated by oceanic and land biota. In that book he comes across pretty sceptical too. His concepts were hijacked and twisted by the enviros, and he ended up tarred with the same brush.

  36. Paul Birch says:

    In the no-chlorophyll scenario, sunlight is able to penetrate deeper into the ocean, leaving the surface water cooler.>/i>”

    I wonder if this is quite correct. Yes, the sunlight will penetrate deeper, but this would only slow the warming of the surface. It shouldn’t change the equilibrium temperature (unless it also changes the albedo). It would still heat up all the way to 30C down to a depth ~10m in less than a month (in the absence of clouds or evaporation). So the absence of plankton might somewhat delay the start of the hurricane season, but once hurricanes had started, the greater depth of heated water should if anything make them stronger (because there is more heat to feed the evaporation that drives them). Comments, anybody?

  37. Juraj V. says:

    So the alleged 40% decline in plankton is a good news? Or it is worse than..

  38. 1DandyTroll says:

    Once the hubris squad of doom and hawkers of gloom, peddlers of scare mongering, gets a hold of this they’ll turn it upside down twist it inside out, and even if it’s complete bullocks, they’ll show us puny humans the truth with it, i.e. our nature of our evil and immoral emissions of CO2, and to blame the emitters of said evil and immoral material, and not the cute and probably furry and having big saucer eyes, algae–who might be related to the poor polar bears a new study says.

  39. David says:

    Re Paul Birch says:
    August 16, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Sounds logical Paul. Energy left nearer the surface (due to the abundance of microscopic biota) would dissapate more quickly in the turbulance of tropical storms bringing the colder water more rapidly to the surface. “For every action an equall and oppositer reaction?

  40. wsbriggs says:

    redneck says:
    August 16, 2010 at 2:21 am
    “WS you are much too pesimistic. ”

    Sorry redneck, I was trying to be sarcastic. I need more practice.

    As far as those happy little bacteria are concerned, I’m delighted they exist. Once, while the Shah was still in power, I visited Tehran and had a delightful conversation with some Iranian biologists who were working on culturing microbes to work at secondary and tertiary recovery in wells. Intriguing thought – they work for the price of a few covalent bonds, hard to get cheaper labor than that.

  41. starzmom says:

    Brad–

    What you say about a dead zone is true–at the mouth of the Mississippi. But further out those nutrients are available, along with oxygen, to fuel a mammoth algal bloom. The question is how much do those nutrients and the phytoplankton they fuel contribute to warmth in the Gulf and then strength and direction of a hurricane. Seems to me every hurricane season I hear the talking heads discuss how a hurricane will strengthen when it hits the “warm waters of the Gulf.” Connection? Correlation? Or just another unrelated artifact?

  42. If you watch this video in full you will have most questions here answered

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zOXmJ4jd-8&feature=player_embedded

  43. Pascvaks says:

    Instead of Windmill Frams is Scotland, how about we require all those empty SuperTankers to swing by Antarctica on their way back to the Middle East and pick up a load of ice cubes. When they get to the Indian Ocean (preferably in the Arabian Sea) they dump their ice and then pick up a load of crude. If someone raises a stink about oil covered ice cubes from internal stowage, we can always have a half dozen or so supertankers tow a berg back to the Persian Gulf. Ice cubes would be better though.

    We can do the same with Greenland ice, it’s melting anyway. Right?

  44. Buffoon says:

    “Wanta bet this doesn’t trigger off a Oil Spills Cause Hurricanes, and/or Modern Intensive farming causes hurricanes?”

    No no no.. That’s wholly unscientific. Oil spills cause oil-consuming bacteria, which provide rich grounds of plankton, which then bloom to the surface to cause hurricanes, which then devastate nearby oil rigs to cause more oil spills.

    We’re very close to the BPHO (bacteria plankton hurricane oil) system tipping point. The next barrel of oil may spell the windy death of civilization. Act now to become more dependant on foreign oil, moving this menace far from our shores.

  45. Wilky says:

    Oh that Plankton! First he tries to steal the Crusty Crab, and now he is out stirring up hurricanes. How can such a small character be such a big villain?

  46. MikeH says:

    If this is true, that would mean that in the fight over CO2 sequestration, the scientists can be actually adding to the formation of hurricanes?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/28/iron-carbon-oceans

    Kind of a ‘Sticky Wicket’ to be in. The more algae and other phytoplankton that they help out by adding iron to the ocean, could also be helping the formation of hurricanes? But don’t criticize their actions, their intentions were good.

  47. H.R. says:

    “Plankton Cause Hurricanes! Urgent Action Required!”

    When in trouble
    When in doubt
    Run in circles
    Scream and shout

    I think I’ll wait for the movie to come out. Can’t be worse than “Snakes On A Plane” can it?

    CRS, Dr.P.H.’s comments @ August 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm bring up an interesting point. It seems reasonable that biomass of various sorts might affect regional climeate, but then a Chicken-and-egg conundrum pops up; does changing climate increase the biomass of particular species or does the biomass of some sort change the climate to suitable conditions for the biomass?

    Thinking of the few treeline studies I’ve seen referenced on WUWT, it seems that climate determines where the biomasses thrive. Thinking again about the corn example CRS, Dr.P.H. pointed out, it seems that one decent LIA or dustbowl-type drought would negate the changes the corn has made to the regional climate and wipe out the corn as well.

  48. phlogiston says:

    The presence of plankton in the water warms the ocean surface. And clouds and hurricanes cool the ocean surface. What is the net effect of these two inter-related but opposed plankton-caused phenomena? Unknown, even as to sign.

    I risk sounding like a stuck record here but – if plankton growth and metabolism set in motion opposing processes – surface warming due to absorbance, cooling due to clouds then three guesses what scenario that gives us? Yes – chaotic-nonlinear dynamics, a system with friction or dissipation / damping favouring the development of non-linear (“chaotic”) pattern behaviour.

    Alan Turing first proposed in the 1950′s that such self-opposing factors could give complexity to biological developing organisms – cells release agents that trigger both their promotion and inhibition, on different spatial-temporal scales. This yin-yang is a universal recipe for complexity with emergent nonlinear pattern in complex systems.

  49. Expat in France says:

    Ah, but where ARE these hurricanes, eh ??

  50. red432 says:

    “…What is the net effect of these two inter-related but opposed plankton-caused phenomena? Unknown, even as to sign…”

    This is the key problem with climate modeling. Even the most basic things are unknown. I read a recent oceanography book that provided a simple model for predicting water evaporation from the ocean to an accuracy of about 10%, if there are no waves, wind, currents, impurities in the water, and about 20 other caveats. If you throw in any of the excluded factors, they really couldn’t say anything with any certainty. So when climate models estimate water evaporation from the ocean, apparently they are just guessing, and then they compound the guesswork with thousands of other guesses and trillions of accumulated floating point calculation errors. The whole thing seems to be a big waste of electricity.

  51. Willis Eschenbach says:

    fredb says:
    August 16, 2010 at 12:50 am

    When will WUWT stop using tabloid headlines.

    The posting says plankton causes hurricanes, while the article says plankton influences the prevalence of hurricanes … there is a vast difference between the two.

    The headline used here reminds me of what I see at the checkout stand of the supermarket!

    Reply: I think you miss the literary technique being employed by Willis. ~ ctm

    The headline used here was deliberate, what is called a “spoof” of the types of headlines employed by the tabloids.

    However, it is also quite accurate. The article says that the number of hurricanes depends on the amount of plankton in the water …

  52. Curiousgeorge says:

    I don’t know about any connection with hurricanes, but plankton give me gas. As does AGW.

  53. Gail Combs says:

    Wayne Delbeke says:
    August 15, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Not only do microbes live throughout the ocean but now it has been discovered that they live under the earth to depths of several kilometres. The Suzuki Foundation is opposing carbon sequestration underground because it has been discovered that certain microbes LOVE CO2 and that they can use it along with iron bound in the earth to create METHANE… Gosh, will these guys never get their heads straight? Pumping CO2 into the ground is one of the most cost effective ways we have to reduce CO2 emissions… seems to me that might be a good thing as methane can be used as a fuel. So why wouldn’t I inject my stored carbon with the microbes on purpose and harvest the methane for fuel?

    What have I missed here?
    ___________________________________________
    WOW what a great Idea, Wayne! Quick patent it. Of course since it will not generate more money for the wealthy it will get the boot.

  54. Gail Combs says:

    fredb says:
    August 16, 2010 at 12:50 am

    ….The headline used here reminds me of what I see at the checkout stand of the supermarket!
    _______________________
    Fred, it is supposed to. Willis is poking a bit of fun at the typical alarmist type headlines we see in the news all the time.

  55. 1DandyTroll says:

    OMG, but wasn’t there a bunch of plankton involved in making all the oil? O_0

  56. John from CA says:

    “I wonder if New Orleans residents can sue the wee timorous planktonic beasties for damages from Hurricane Katrina?”

    I’m wiping my monitor off after laughing so hard. I may need to install a monitor shield wiper if you keep this up.

    Thanks for the belly laugh.

  57. Hu McCulloch says:

    Incredible — NASA has discovered the Mollweide equal-area projection! Its technology has now advanced from the 1st c AD (the equal-rectangular projection of Marinus of Tyre, which exaggerates polar areas) to the early 19th c!

    See http://climateaudit.org/2008/02/12/equal-area-projections/ . (Unfortunately, the inline images no longer appear under the new system.)

  58. Alvin says:

    Jimmy Haigh says:
    August 15, 2010 at 2:47 pm
    Is it any stupider than when someone suggested that man made CO2 caused global warming?

    NOM!

  59. Alvin says:

    Tom In Florida

    Does anybody really care, about time?

  60. anthony says:

    seems me being new to this level of science puts me not much below you guys in understanding all this. Learning new things, and it seems to never end. I really enjoyed reading all your comments.

    can I ask you guys a question? How does corexit affect our gulf of mexico, seems I read somewhere that it will affect the water temperature. I was also wondering if this is a large impact, can it change the conveyor belt in the Gulf and Atlantic?

    I live down the street where this corexit is made, and it just seems responsible yo ask this question now. Thanks

    If I had not been too busy learning about human behavior from alcoholism while growing up, I would be one of you guys now; I am so jealous. But I guess I can always play the blues, right?

  61. Willis Eschenbach says:

    John from CA says:
    August 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    “I wonder if New Orleans residents can sue the wee timorous planktonic beasties for damages from Hurricane Katrina?”

    I’m wiping my monitor off after laughing so hard. I may need to install a monitor shield wiper if you keep this up.

    Thanks for the belly laugh.

    Glad you enjoyed it. As you may have noticed, it was a bit of a play on Robert Burns’ poem “To A Mouse“, which starts:

    Wee, sleek, cowering, timorous beastie,
    O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

    My favorite lines are at the end:

    But Mousie, thou art not alone,
    In proving foresight may be vain:
    The best laid schemes of mice an’ men
    Go oft astray,
    And leave us naught but grief and pain,
    For promised joy!

    This is also the source of the aphorism that the best laid plans of plankton and men are … about equal.

    w.

  62. mikelorrey says:

    This is where I insert a video from Spongebob Squarepants of Plankton seeking to take over the world.

  63. IH3 says:

    Years ago I considered a postdoc job numerically modeling the transfer of heat across the water/air boundary. Back of the envelope calculations had apparently shown that tiny bursting bubbles, from alga respiration of from air entrained by waves, transferred an enormous amount of heat from the sea to the air.

    I don’t know what the result of the work was, no doubt the model produced what ever the required conclusion was. But it would be one mechanism for shifting heat from the ocean to the atmosphere in the presence of photosynthesising bugs.

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