Another claimed tipping point: ocean cyanobacteria will go into 'overdrive' and can't stop

These folks at WHOI and USC ran their bacteria life cycles for the cyanobacteria known as Trichodesmium ahead  to predicted ocean conditions (based on climate models) to 2100, and predict that this particular bacteria, important in the ocean food web will go into “overdrive” and won’t be able to turn off like having a “car with the gas pedal stuck to the floor, heading toward a cliff’s edge” (their words).

Looking back in time though via Sánchez-Baracaldo et al (2014) , this type of bacteria seems to be 600-800 million years old.

Changes in carbon dioxide during the Phanerozoic (the last 542 million years). The recent period is located on the left side of the plot. This figure illustrates a range of events over the last 550 million years during which CO2 played a role in global climate.[21] The graph begins (on the right) with an era predating terrestrial plant life, during which solar output was more than 4% lower than today.[22] Land plants only became widespread after 400Ma, during the Devonian (D) period, and their diversification (along with the evolution of leaves) may have been partially driven by a decrease in CO2 concentration.[23] Toward the left side of the graph the sun gradually approaches modern levels of solar output, while vegetation spreads, removing large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. The last 200 million years includes periods of extreme warmth, and sea levels so high that 200 metre-deep shallow seas formed on continental land masses (for example, at 100Ma during the Cretaceous (K) Greenhouse).[24] At the far left of the graph, we see modern CO2 levels and the appearance of the climate under which human species and human civilization developed.
I wonder how Trichodesmium managed to get through that period of 4000-5000 ppm of atmospheric CO2 400-500 million years ago without killing everything in the ocean then. Color me unconvinced by the press release, which looks more like a Paris climate conference scare story than real science to me. It reads almost like a school science fair project, viz. “we put these bacteria in a tank, ramped up the CO2, and observed the results. From that we extrapolated to what might happen in the year 2100”. Even the worst case 2100 CO2 concentration projections fall far short of the levels in the past.


Climate change will irreversibly force key ocean bacteria into overdrive

Scientists demonstrate that a key organism in the ocean’s foodweb will start reproducing at high speed as carbon dioxide levels rise, with no way to stop when nutrients become scarce

Imagine being in a car with the gas pedal stuck to the floor, heading toward a cliff’s edge. Metaphorically speaking, that’s what climate change will do to the key group of ocean bacteria known as Trichodesmium, scientists have discovered.

Trichodesmium (called “Tricho” for short by researchers) is one of the few organisms in the ocean that can “fix” atmospheric nitrogen gas, making it available to other organisms. It is crucial because all life — from algae to whales — needs nitrogen to grow.

A new study from USC and the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) shows that changing conditions due to climate change could send Tricho into overdrive with no way to stop — reproducing faster and generating lots more nitrogen. Without the ability to slow down, however, Tricho has the potential to gobble up all its available resources, which could trigger die-offs of the microorganism and the higher organisms that depend on it.

By breeding hundreds of generations of the bacteria over the course of nearly five years in high-carbon dioxide ocean conditions predicted for the year 2100, researchers found that increased ocean acidification evolved Tricho to work harder, producing 50 percent more nitrogen, and grow faster.

The problem is that these amped-up bacteria can’t turn it off even when they are placed in conditions with less carbon dioxide. Further, the adaptation can’t be reversed over time — something not seen before by evolutionary biologists, and worrisome to marine biologists, according to David Hutchins, lead author of the study.

“Losing the ability to regulate your growth rate is not a healthy thing,” said Hutchins, professor at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “The last thing you want is to be stuck with these high growth rates when there aren’t enough nutrients to go around. It’s a losing strategy in the struggle to survive.”

Tricho needs phosphorous and iron, which also exist in the ocean in limited supply. With no way to regulate its growth, the turbo-boosted Tricho could burn through all of its available nutrients too quickly and abruptly die off, which would be catastrophic for all other life forms in the ocean that need the nitrogen it would have produced to survive.

Some models predict that increasing ocean acidification will exacerbate the problem of nutrient scarcity by increasing stratification of the ocean — locking key nutrients away from the organisms that need them to survive.

Hutchins is collaborating with Eric Webb of USC Dornsife and Mak Saito of WHOI to gain a better understanding of what the future ocean will look like, as it continues to be shaped by climate change. They were shocked by the discovery of an evolutionary change that appears to be permanent — something Hutchins described as “unprecedented.”

“Tricho has been studied for ages. Nobody expected that it could do something so bizarre,” he said. “The evolutionary biologists are interested in it just to study this as a basic evolutionary principle.”

The team is now studying the DNA of Tricho to try to find out how and why the irreversible evolution occurs. Earlier this year, research led by Webb found that Tricho’s DNA inexplicably contains elements that are usually only seen in higher life forms.

“Our results in this and the aforementioned study are truly surprising. Furthermore, they are giving us an improved, view of how global climate change will impact Trichodesmium and the vital supplies of new nitrogen it provides to the rest of the marine food web in the future.” Webb said.


The research appears in Nature Communications on September 1. It can be found online at:

Hutchins, Webb and Saito collaborated with Nathan Walworth, Jasmine Gale and Fei-Xue Fu of USC; and Dawn Moran and Matthew McIlvin of Woods Hole. Their work was funded by the National Science Foundation, grants OCE 1260490, OCE 1143760, OCE 1260233 and OCE OA 1220484; and the G.B. Moore Foundation, grants 3782 and 3934.

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September 1, 2015 2:33 pm

If your model goes to infinity, 99 times out of 100 you either have a bad model or extrapolated past your equation’s bounds. Anyone who doesn’t learn this in basic mathematical models shouldn’t get their bachelors, much less their doctorate.

Reply to  benofhouston
September 1, 2015 3:17 pm

It has been said that you can drag a moron through a university and even confer a PhD upon him, but he will still be a moron. (and mostly likely a climate “scientist”)

Reply to  markstoval
September 2, 2015 1:30 am

Very good.

Reply to  markstoval
September 2, 2015 4:59 am

“…even confer a PhD upon him, but he will still be a moron”
I’ve worked with/for several of those. One common trait; they can NEVER be wrong, at any cost.

Reply to  benofhouston
September 2, 2015 11:42 am

Keep posting Ben.

Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 2:42 pm

Diazotrophic cyanobacterial genus Trichodesmium is important, but fairly limited in geographic scope, occurring mainly around Australia and in the Red Sea, which takes its name from the organism.

Steve P
Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 4:42 pm

The Red Sea takes its name from blue-green algae?

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Steve P
September 1, 2015 5:07 pm

Blue green algae is a misnomer. Cyanobacteria aren’t algae.
Trichodesmium erythraeum, as its specific name implies, contains a reddish or purplish pigment.

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Steve P
September 1, 2015 5:53 pm

comment image

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Steve P
September 1, 2015 5:56 pm

Although I grant you, cyan is blue-green.
But not all so-called cyanobacteria are in fact of that hue.

Steve P
Reply to  Steve P
September 1, 2015 6:07 pm

Thanks. Point taken, but algae or not, cyan means blue, not red.
My search of “Red Sea” on Google images has produced just a single photo – waay down at the bottom – of what may be the Red Sea, or a cove/bay/inlet thereupon – certainly a body of water in any event – blooming red from something, possibly Trichodesmium erythraeum.
Image: Ken Flagg dot com
Note that this image is associated with Mr. Flagg’s musical production, artistic license and all…
Are these T. erythraeum blooms rare events? ‘Seems a bit odd that there aren’t more images of the Red Sea showing its colors.

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Steve P
September 1, 2015 6:14 pm

comment image

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Steve P
September 1, 2015 6:15 pm
Steve P
Reply to  Steve P
September 1, 2015 9:04 pm

How did the Red Sea really get its name?
“The first people known to explore the Red Sea were the Ancient Egyptians, who explored the area c. 2500 BC while looking for commercial routes southward. So how did the Red Sea get its name? Theories abound, but no one knows for sure.
It could be from the red-hued “sea sawdust,” a type of bacteria that grows near the water’s surface. Some historians believe the Red Sea is named for the Himyarites, a group who once lived along it’s (sic) shores. Others believe that the “red” in Red Sea is actually a designator of the Sea’s location relative to the ancient Mediterranean world – to the South. In ancient languages, the colors black, red, green, and white referred to North, South, East, and West, respectively.”
I couldn’t find any connection to ‘red’ in the Wiki article on the Himyarites. Bedtime.

Reply to  Steve P
September 1, 2015 9:18 pm

“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.” Rev. 16:3 KJV
…just another indicator of the religious nature of these doomsayers.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 2, 2015 2:45 am

This research is being widely quoted by the cult-stream media (,/6bEDN0E8k, Yahoo News:, deriving wrong conclusion. The facts that marine primary producers benefit from CO2 fertilization and some of them can fix nitrogen from air (dissolved in water) have been known for decades. Additional primary production will find its way to the higher trophic levels, including edible fish and other marine products. The conclusions are opposite to those by alarmists:
1) Increased CO2 concentration is good, because it will support more marine life.
2) Marine biota is another sink for anthropogenic CO2, not properly accounted for in today’s model.
“Ocean acidification” is untrue, because ocean water is alkaline, not acidic. River water is slightly acidic.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 2, 2015 2:50 am

Correction for link (research misinterpretation):

September 1, 2015 3:00 pm

Jurassic Park said it simply. Nature will find a way.
If your model runs away with no brakes… you probably haven’t understood the complexity of ecosystems.
If fixed Nitrogen is no longer limiting something will find a way to live and take in CO2.
Otherwise the disaster would have happened already.

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  MCourtney
September 1, 2015 3:12 pm

In the improbable event that Tricho suddenly disappeared from the waters of the earth, it would not mean the end of all nitrogen fixation in the oceans.
Tricho, aka sea sawdust, is found in nutrient-poor tropical and subtropical waters, especially in the Indian Ocean basin. It fixes atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium used by organisms higher in the food chain. Tricho is the only diazotroph known to fix N in daylight under aerobic conditions without the use of heterocysts. But other N-fixing organisms live in the seas.

September 1, 2015 3:02 pm

“irreversible evolution”…what pray tell is that? Are they suggesting that it’s possible for a species to devolve to a previous species once the external stimulation is removed? Isn’t there a discredited theory on such a proposition?

Gunga Din
Reply to  fossilsage
September 1, 2015 3:08 pm

Man devolves to Mann.
Maybe they’re on to something!

Gunga Din
Reply to  Gunga Din
September 1, 2015 3:14 pm

(Anyone who wants to contribute to my legal defense fund, please send cash to……8-)

Reply to  Gunga Din
September 1, 2015 3:20 pm

One of my favorite cartoons by Josh!

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  fossilsage
September 1, 2015 3:20 pm

Yes, evolution is reversible, contrary to “Dollo’s Law”.
There are other observed instances as well.
What the authors overlook, among other salient points, is that it’s highly unlikely that every Tricho in the world would undergo the same evolutionary process. Many would probably remain the same. But even if they all changed, at least some of them could change back, assuming that the genetic changes weren’t too great.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 4:34 pm

It’s not reversible evolution, they are just evolving in a different direction.

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 5:12 pm

It’s considered reversible if the inactivated or suppressed genes are still there and get switched back on.
For example, it’s possible to imagine humans re-evolving long body hair. Probably won’t ever happen because our remarkable cooling system (nakedness and sweat glands) is advantageous even in cold climates, thanks to the cultural evolution of clothing, enabled by our hand and brain evolution, but theoretically could.
We still have the same hair genes as chimps and the same number of follicles per square inch of skin. The difference is that our control genes shut off hair growth while the hairs are still short, while chimps’ control genes keep them growing longer.
My brother in law in fact might be an example of the early stages of this re-evolution. Just kidding!

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 5:28 pm

Reversible Bone Shrinkage Documented In Galapagos Iguanas
January 10, 2000
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Measurements showing vertebrate animals getting smaller during the course of a study normally are dismissed as measurement error or not possible. Eighteen years of data from the Galapagos Islands, however, indicate such shrinkage is both occurring and reversible.
The researchers found that the lizards’ bones shrank in response to conditions of El Niño years, but then grew again with the return of more normal weather.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 5:54 pm

True. There is a species of bat in New Zealand that now cannot fly.

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 5:56 pm

NZ is a wonderland of evolutionary biology.

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 5:59 pm

However, Australia has laid claim to the origin of the distinctive NZ bat:

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 6:08 pm

IMO flightless birds and bats aren’t good examples of reverse evolution, since they preserve their wings. Their arms haven’t returned to the condition of their originally flightless ancestors.
Humans and other apes growing tails would be a hypothetical example of reverse evolution, as would birds growing teeth and long tails.
I can’t find the paper, but I recall an actual rather than theoretical example of repeated reverse evolution in African lake mollusks, possibly mussels. When conditions were favorable for one species, it evolved repeatedly, to be replaced by another distinct species when the environment changed. It must be rare for extinction and resurrection to alternate in this manner.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 7:27 pm

Maybe some sort of epigenesis effect which would take a while to kick back out. Conditions change frequently and they already have the genes, they just need to turn them on and off depending on conditions.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 7:37 pm

When conditions were favorable for one species, it evolved repeatedly, to be replaced by another distinct species when the environment changed.
the source eludes me. this has been documented in other species. a genetic switch depending on the environment. what appears to be two different species is in fact one species with very different appearance and adaptation.
sort of like scientists. when the grants are running high for climate studies, everyone’s degree switches over to climate science. when the grants run out, the degrees switch back to whatever is the next new thing.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 8:36 pm

“There is a species of bat in New Zealand that now cannot fly.”
Because it didn’t buy enough carbon credits?

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 9:31 pm

sturgishooper said: “Humans and other apes growing tails would be a hypothetical example of reverse evolution,…”
During a physical exam my doctor said that I had an extra vertebra in my coccyx – beyond the normal range of 3 to 5 vertebrae. So…?

Reply to  noaaprogrammer
September 1, 2015 9:41 pm

During a physical exam my doctor said that I had an extra vertebra in my coccyx – beyond the normal range of 3 to 5 vertebrae. So…?

Now, show that – over the next 1500 generations (figure 10,000 years) as that tail keeps “randomly” getting longer – it will keep breeding true and be getting longer although ugly and disfiguring and HURTING your performance and your breeding likelihood BEFORE it becomes (possibly!) ever useful for anything.
It’s not that ‘evolution” couldn’t work. It’s that evolution produces so many useless and harmful random changes for millions of years BEFORE any of the supposed advantages become advantages. Tens of thousands of random changes in nerves, bones, muscles, cell structure, control, and receiver (again, nerves, brain, and connections) are required over millions of year – with no “Mother Nature” as a designer! – before ANY useful thing comes from even a rudimentary “eye” + brain + muscles + responses. And without all of the support billions of changes in cells, none of it “promotes the species” at all. Only harms it.
If anything, evolution proves the need for a “Designer” – not the opposite.

Steve P
Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 2, 2015 7:27 am

“If anything, evolution proves the need for a “Designer” – not the opposite.”
Hmmm. The designer must have had some unique purpose in mind when rendering the Giant Panda, which seems to have evolved a special extra “pseudo-thumb” for grasping bamboo, we are told, and has the powerful jaws, and griding molars needed to masticate large quantities of bamboo shoots daily, but which retains the relatively short, straight intestines typical of a carnivore, along with “decidedly ursine teeth.”
The result of this peculiar design is the Panda must spend much of its time gnawing on bamboo shoots, most of which simply passes through the Panda’s relatively short gut virtually undigested, and which requires the cuddly beast to take up to 40 dumps every day.
Of course, the designer sometimes “works in strange ways,”, and it’s always possible there is some special purpose to piles of panda poop, but I’ll leave it to others to entertain that question, or find a relevant passage in the pages of Bible.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 2, 2015 7:50 am

So, if humans are slowly losing their tails…coccyx’s, does that mean we won’t have asses in the future?

Gunga Din
September 1, 2015 3:06 pm

I I think they’ve proposed enough “tipping points” to turn their argument upside down.

Reply to  Gunga Din
September 2, 2015 12:44 am

Another environmentalist worried about tipping points.


Gunga Din
Reply to  Pointman
September 2, 2015 2:10 pm

I’m surprised he’s Obama’s Climate Czar.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Pointman
September 2, 2015 2:17 pm

I’m surprised he’s NOT Obama’s Climate Czar.

September 1, 2015 3:08 pm

I read a report a couple of day ago that blamed another microorganism for the Post Permian extinction 250 million years ago – or thereabouts. Seems that all the CO2 in the ocean plus a bunch of Nickel from the Siberian Traps allowed to suck up all the carbon and acidify the oceans and wiped out 90% of the life there.
These pesky critters need to be stopped.

September 1, 2015 3:13 pm

By breeding hundreds of generations of the bacteria over the course of nearly five years in high-carbon dioxide ocean conditions…they will run out of iron way before they can fix this mutation…and things will be normal
Please don’t let children play in the lab………

Reply to  Latitude
September 1, 2015 3:29 pm

nice hypothesis.
test it.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
September 1, 2015 4:35 pm

Once again Mosher violates the Null hypothesis.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
September 1, 2015 6:03 pm

Mosher, Trichodesmium is well studied. It has no secrets. Trichodesmium gets it’s nitrogen from the atmosphere, it’s limited by iron. We have Trichodesmium blooms in Florida limited by the iron from Saharan dust. Trichodesmium also is not considered a very good food source as there are only a few very specialized organisms that will feed on it.
What these “scientists” did is use Trichodesmium that had been cultivated in the lab for generations. Trichodesmium is not easy to culture and there are several “lab” strains out there that have been bred specifically to live in the lab. What they are assuming is that these strains will develop on their own in the wild, and then not be able to revert back. First they would need a constant supply of iron to do that.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
September 1, 2015 6:21 pm

Mosh, to be clearer…..all I’m saying is that they are lying

Reply to  Latitude
September 1, 2015 10:26 pm


Peter Miller
September 1, 2015 3:15 pm

If all the CO2 currently going into the oceans continues for another century at the same rate, the ‘evil gas’ concentration there will rise by approximately one part per million.
I am not sure if that means this obscure bacteria will go into overdrive or not, but logic suggests not.

Reply to  Peter Miller
September 1, 2015 3:38 pm

Seems uncanny to me that there could be absorption from the air into the ocean at all. I would think that the other way around would be more sensible, particularly from volcanic activity. I am speaking from layman’s intuition here, not education. Someone please explain it to me if I am wrong.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
September 1, 2015 3:41 pm

Sorry, I meant to say ‘undersea volcanic activity’.

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Dawtgtomis
September 1, 2015 3:49 pm

Warmer water releases CO2 to the air, but I suppose some gets mixed into the upper layer by waves and winds.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
September 1, 2015 4:34 pm

Thanks! Does CO2 exchange between air and water have anything to do with osmosis and reaching equilibrium?

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Dawtgtomis
September 1, 2015 5:14 pm

It’s complicated by the fact that, while there might be more CO2 in the air to get mixed into the mixing layer, warmer water is at the same time giving up some of its CO2 from solution.

R. Shearer
Reply to  Dawtgtomis
September 1, 2015 6:26 pm

There is a equilibrium formed between the gas and liquid phase concentrations, the ratio of which is a constant that is dependent on temperature. It takes time for the equilibrium to be established, the rate of dissolution into the liquid phase being slower.

michael hart
Reply to  Dawtgtomis
September 2, 2015 5:27 am

And the equilibration is actually quite a slow chemical reaction. Living organisms evolved carbonic anhydrase to speed it up the reaction and make it go about a million times faster. I haven’t seen that explicitly included in climate models yet. Another reason not to trust them.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
September 3, 2015 5:40 am

And then mixing, bacteria, and plants quickly move the surface out of equalibrium. They are consumed by animals, allowing new bacteria and plants to grow depending on the mix of nutients available.

Bruce Cobb
September 1, 2015 3:36 pm

I know Warmist blatherings and wild imaginings seem stuck in overdrive.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
September 1, 2015 4:39 pm

They need full throttle to get to Paris on time…

September 1, 2015 3:38 pm

WHOI and USC are becoming the Thelma and Louise of Bad Science.
ha ha

Reply to  601nan
September 1, 2015 4:37 pm

LOL and maybe Debbie Downer!

Gentle Tramp
September 1, 2015 3:47 pm

Some days ago, BBC had a likewise idiotic pre-Paris story in their series “Science in Action”:
(Listen after 14:30 runtime in “Lessons from Katrina”)
There they claimed the sharks might be wiped out because of to much CO2 after 2100. Difficult to believe that BBC science jounalists could be really so stupid not to know that sharks simply flourished during the Jurassic and Cretaceous age when there was much more CO2 in the atmosphere than anything that could be possible in the year 2100…

Joe Civis
September 1, 2015 3:48 pm

to paraphrase famous movie…. “I feel a disturbance in the farce….. like billions of once functioning brain cells were snuffed out of existence…”

September 1, 2015 3:48 pm

“ocean cyanobacteria will go into ‘overdrive’ and can’t stop” – just like it did the last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, and…

September 1, 2015 3:48 pm

“Trichodesmium is one of the few organisms in the ocean that can “fix” atmospheric nitrogen gas”
I would expect such organisms in the ocean to fix nitrogen in the water. “Atmospheric” makes no sense.

Reply to  Gamecock
September 1, 2015 4:10 pm

Don’t argue Gamecock – the science is settled. The bacteria use snorkels.

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Gamecock
September 1, 2015 5:15 pm

They float to the surface, where they can form mats. But as below, the UV there kills them off and they raise a stink.

Louis Hunt
September 1, 2015 3:50 pm

“the adaptation can’t be reversed over time — something not seen before by evolutionary biologists”
They grew the bacteria in a high-CO2 environment for nearly 5 years. But how much time did they study the bacteria after returning them to lower-CO2 conditions? Did they allow them enough time to reverse back? Did they slowly reduce the phosphorous and iron in the environment to see if that would trigger a reversal? If a reversal did occur in a few bacteria, did they give them time to multiply to a point where they could be detected? I suspect they didn’t allow enough time, or their conditions did not adequately duplicate the real world. In the words of Gollum, “It knows a way in, it must know a way out.”

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Louis Hunt
September 1, 2015 5:15 pm

Here’s what the abstract says:
Nitrogen fixation rates of the globally distributed, biogeochemically important marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium increase under high carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in short-term studies due to physiological plasticity. However, its long-term adaptive responses to ongoing anthropogenic CO2 increases are unknown. Here we show that experimental evolution under extended selection at projected future elevated CO2 levels results in irreversible, large increases in nitrogen fixation and growth rates, even after being moved back to lower present day CO2 levels for hundreds of generations. This represents an unprecedented microbial evolutionary response, as reproductive fitness increases acquired in the selection environment are maintained after returning to the ancestral environment. Constitutive rate increases are accompanied by irreversible shifts in diel nitrogen fixation patterns, and increased activity of a potentially regulatory DNA methyltransferase enzyme. High CO2-selected cell lines also exhibit increased phosphorus-limited growth rates, suggesting a potential advantage for this keystone organism in a more nutrient-limited, acidified future ocean.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 6:41 pm

Gloria, they are flat out lying….
Obviously an organism that gets nitrogen/ammonia from the atmosphere is not limited by nitrogen. When cultured they are limited by CO2 because a dense culture will use up the available CO2 very fast. You increase CO2 in condensed cultures either through aeration or direct injection of CO2. Now, CO2 and nitrogen are no longer limiting…… then what becomes limiting? phos and iron
They can’t do what they claim without Trichodesmium having a constant supply or iron. Trichodesmium is limited by iron in nature. We have outbreaks here in So Fla every summer as soon as the African dust ( Iron) gets here.
Trichodesmium is very hard to culture. There are strains that have been developed that will grow in the lab. Those strains need a constant supply of iron to live.
The liars “scientist” have tried to give the impression that this cyano was studied for this reason and cultivated for five years….blah blah
All they did was try to put a twist on a cyano strain that they had sitting around….unless the oceans figure out a way to have a constant supply of Iron this will never happen

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 7:14 pm

… this keystone organism in a more nutrient-limited, acidified future ocean.

The psychology of lack of confidence: “in a” is a distancing mechanism. Uncertainty about one’s own position produces discomfort. So, instead of talking about thisworld, as a skeptic might (“If we have another little ice age …”), the warmist talks about some imaginary world, a different world, “a warmer…” world, not this one, a warmer one. Can you imagine a skeptic writing “in a world not controlled by CO2”? Of course not, we have confidence that CO2 is not the control knob, so we don’t psychologically distance ourselves.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 7:47 pm

as reproductive fitness increases acquired in the selection environment are maintained after returning to the ancestral environment.
well duh. if you made the environment hostile and killed off all but the top performing humans of each new generation, while making large supplies of resources available to those that did not die off, you would over thousands of generations breed a “super” human.
And we are them. If you returned us to conditions as they were 2 million years ago on earth, Homo Sapiens would not suddenly turn into Australopithecus. And these so called scientists find this surprising.

Reply to  Louis Hunt
September 1, 2015 6:22 pm

Giving the bacteria time to reverse the evolution wouldn’t suit their catastrophic storyline. They need that “unprecedented” for Paris, you know. And to keep the grant money flowing.

Reply to  Katherine
September 2, 2015 8:30 am

Also, they only mention “anthropogenic” co2. So, we must conclude that the 4% or so of the man made co2, and not the natural co2, is what will drive this devastating cat ass trophy in the future. Does that sound right? It’s all about perception.

September 1, 2015 4:09 pm

‘a Paris climate conference scare story ‘
and there are many, many more to come Paris may well be their last ‘great chance ‘ and they will go all out to keep this gravy train on the track, of for no other reason than most of them know they could never , through their actual abilities , find themselves ridding such a train again.

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  knr
September 1, 2015 4:14 pm

Many leading GOP candidates are professed climate skeptics, although it’s hard to know how serious they are. Trump’s commitment to skepticism is especially suspicious.
Even so, Paris could be the last time the US is in on the scam.

Crispin in Waterloo
September 1, 2015 4:18 pm

” With no way to regulate its growth, the turbo-boosted Tricho could burn through all of its available nutrients too quickly and abruptly die off, ”
Rather obviously the iron availability would be a limitation on growth. Some would survive, They would adapt just as before. Talk about a non-event.

September 1, 2015 4:30 pm

Those convinced climate alarmists’ brains certainly have their “gas pedal stuck”. Their “tipping point” is reached. Their feverish imagination is in “overdrive”. What can we do to help them?

Reply to  AndyE
September 1, 2015 9:55 pm

… a nation-wide recall.

September 1, 2015 4:30 pm

Tricho needs phosphorous and iron

Did they mean phosphorus, the element, or did they mean the lower valence phosphorous versus the higher valence phosphoric?

Reply to  Werner Brozek
September 1, 2015 6:47 pm

Not the element P, but the combination of dissolved and bioavailable P.

Bio-available, or algal-available P, is a combination of dissolved P, plus the estimated portion of sediment P to be released within a short time, e.g., 45 hours, after the particles enter surface water. Bio-available P is not immediately available, but is expected to be available to aquatic vegetation within a few days or weeks. Bio-available P in water is commonly measured as P adsorped during shaking with a strip of filter paper impregnated with iron oxide.

Michael Jankowski
September 1, 2015 4:32 pm

***”Tricho has been studied for ages. Nobody expected that it could do something so bizarre,” he said***
Studied for ages, and nobody looked at how it reacted to changes in pH? Now that’s “bizarre.”

September 1, 2015 4:35 pm

“Could Send.” That’s all I need. Another agenda driven scary story.

September 1, 2015 4:37 pm

An increase in CO2 causes an increase in cyano bacteria, which proceed to take CO2 out of the air (indirectly of course).
Sounds like they have discovered another negative feedback.

September 1, 2015 4:41 pm

Before predicting catastrophe the authors should have investigated why Trichodesmium only grows in limited areas, such as the Red Sea. They should have also investigated if its range has extended in the last 20 or so years.
A few reviews of ecology studies would also have taught them that NO organism ever grows forever. It either runs into limits and an exponential growth rate levels out due to lack of nutrients, predators, changes in its environment caused by the growth, etc. or it dies off to some low level for the same reasons until conditions are favorable again.

September 1, 2015 4:44 pm

Yep – we get Trichodesmium blooms from time to time up here in NE Oz. It goes “overdrive” frequently as well. The clumps turn to slicks, become buoyant, rise to the surface, get cooked, go off, and stink the place out. It’s a tipping point all right. Time to tip all the front windows shut for a start.
AIMS (link below) are usually fairly alarmist about GB Reef matters, but don’t seem bothered about Tricho. Interestingly, they say it is ” … impossible to culture for laboratory studies”, so I wonder how the above tests were conducted? They don’t mention hitting the stuff with UV, so that might explain why their brew goes on brewing?
Last comment from AIMS: ” … the most useful observations remain those made by Captain Cook over 200 years ago … ”

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Martin Clark
September 1, 2015 5:48 pm

Is that why “Des” is such a common name in Oz?
Tricho blooms also occur in the Gulf of Mexico, but maybe a different species.

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  Martin Clark
September 1, 2015 5:50 pm

Contrary to the researchers’ claims, in the Gulf, at least, Tricho is not all that important in the food chain (from link above):
In general, Trichodesmium is not a good food source for other organisms. Only a few specialized animals actively feed on it. Some strains of Trichodesmium do produce toxins, but researchers have not documented any negative effects of Trichodesmium on marine life or people in Florida.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 3, 2015 6:30 am

I believe they were referring to the fixing of nitrogen for food sources, not the bacteria itself as a food source.

Steve P
Reply to  Martin Clark
September 1, 2015 6:40 pm

Impossibility is a temporary state.

NW sage
September 1, 2015 4:49 pm

Perhaps the Tricho in their experiments died out because they ran out of funds from the government and forgot to feed it more N2. [or they already had enough data for their ‘paper’]. Surprise surprise – when it wasn’t fed it died. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to do that?

September 1, 2015 4:57 pm

This is great! Now we can dump raw sewage into the oceans to save the world! The excess nitrogen will save us all.

September 1, 2015 5:09 pm

More fodder for and from the Cult of Warmists. When will rational people stand up and challenge this never ending nonsense that’s being masqueraded as science?

Greg Cavanagh
September 1, 2015 5:14 pm

We need an “April first” type of questionnaire for those attending Paris. To see just how up on the science they really are.

September 1, 2015 5:28 pm

As a biologist, all I can do is smile! Nobody has yet mentioned the deadly, carcinogenic/neurologically poisonous microcystin, which is produced by cyanobacteria. Ask the good folks of Ohio, who have been choking on the stuff! (great photo!)

Gloria Swansong
Reply to  CRS, DrPH
September 1, 2015 5:33 pm

Predictably, “climate change” was mentioned before the real culprit, ag runoff.

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 1, 2015 6:39 pm

Thanks, Gloria, you caught it!

Reply to  Gloria Swansong
September 3, 2015 6:42 am

Yeah, and ag runnoff is only a contributing factor. No one consideres that these things happen even when people aren’t adding phosphorus to water. As if there aren’t biological fluctuations that produced nutrient rich run-off, just probably not quite as often or intense. But anyway, I’ve digresses.
It wasn’t as if there was suddenly much more run-off. The ohio problem was that with population growth, water intake needed to be added. Several of these were both poorly designed and located where algea blooms are a problem.
Not so much as an increasing risk as development moving into riskier areas.

Rich Lambert
September 1, 2015 5:45 pm

I’m worried about killing sand burs in my lawn and chiggers. Since we have all these tipping points, how is it we even exist? How did things get un-tipped? s/o

Reply to  Rich Lambert
September 2, 2015 2:25 pm

Racist; you’re supposed to call them “Chegroes”.

September 1, 2015 6:31 pm

” Based on climate models”, line 2. Read no further!

September 1, 2015 7:09 pm

“Scientists demonstrate”….. with a computer model…… nuff said
Cheers, KevinK

September 1, 2015 7:14 pm

There, of course, will be limiting growth factors for these bacteria. They cannot grow indefinitely just because one or two factors are good. Most of the ocean is a nutrient desert, which limits most of the bacterial and algal growth.

September 1, 2015 7:28 pm

Has anyone in the climate “science” community ever asked themselves, with all the disastrous tipping points they’ve predicted with absolute certainty, why weren’t any of them reached in the past, when earth was 12C warmer and had a CO2 content 10 to 15 times higher (or more)?

September 1, 2015 9:08 pm

If these stark raving idiots are now claiming that they know all about the bacteria content of oceans many millennia ago, I conclude “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”.
I would not let these academic bludgers mow my lawn – they are too bloody dumb.

September 1, 2015 9:35 pm

This is a second dip at the same false Trichodesmium CAGW narrative. A vivid refutation of the first (Toseland, NCC 2013) is provided in essay Good Bad News. The issues and refutations to this new attempt at Mock’s earlier BS are the same.
Recycle falsified scare stories in advance of Paris. What else to do, since Ma Nature has not co-operated?

September 1, 2015 10:41 pm

Stromatolites are cyanobacteria, they generally go back billions of years earlier than the late Proterozoic mentioned above for Tricho. They photosynthesize. They take CO2 and make Oxygen. There are generally limited by Iron. They are very difficult to culture. They are the reason we breathe Oxygen.
Look at the pictures. Tricho does not form mats exposed to the air. It is pulling (the abundant) CO2 from the water and releasing Oxygen to the water.
There will very likely be surprising results from our experiment with CO2, but if you are looking for a risk, look for a critter that causes anoxic oceans.

September 1, 2015 10:49 pm

based on models. Nuff said right there. The only model I ever knew of turned out to be my better-half, who also is a lawyer. Now what does that have to do with bacteria?

September 1, 2015 11:51 pm

This road-to-Paris panic de jour is falsified by climate history. As the above article correctly points out CO2 levels have been in the thousands of ppm for most of tge Phanerozoic. So why are cyanobacteria not in overdrive now?
Marine Cyanobacteriaare predated on by heterotrophic microflagellates and viruses, both of which could easily be unnaturally perturbed in their simplistic experiment.

David the Voter
September 2, 2015 12:32 am

If you laid all if the climate scientists in the world end to end, you still couldn’t reach a credible conclusion.

Reply to  David the Voter
September 2, 2015 1:33 am

Also very good.

September 2, 2015 2:17 am

I’ve not read all the comments – severe lack of time – but I wonder about the way the paper seems to imply that the cyanobacteria * release * nitrogen. I thought that they fixed it. Guess I’m wrong again. In the text the words “researchers found that increased ocean acidification evolved Tricho to work harder, producing 50 percent more nitrogen, and grow faster” appear. Does Tricho /produce/ nitrogen? If so, from where? And when they die the iron etc that they have absorbed must surely return to the ocean, mustn’t it?
Please help me.

Reply to  robinedwards36
September 3, 2015 7:02 am

Takes nitrogen from the atmosphere, fixes it to other atoms, and releases those molecules into the water.

September 2, 2015 3:27 am

Cyanobacteria? We surely must be doomed this time.

September 2, 2015 7:00 am

Using their methodology they could put a plant in an airtight room, pump in large amounts of CO2, note the plants alarming growth and extrapolate as to when the plants will overrun humanity, as in the British movie with killer plants, “The Day of the Triffids”.
Additionally to re-enforce the inevitability of human extinction the authors could lock themselves in an air-tight room, pump in the CO2 and just before they are about to die exit the room and extrapolate when humanity becomes extinct due to excessive CO2.

September 2, 2015 7:50 am

Perhaps plastics will slow the old Tricho down. And the plastic problem may perhaps widen the parameters for grant-studies of declining fish species attributed to CAGW.

September 2, 2015 8:26 am

Side comment: That picture of the car flying off the cliff made my coffee come out of my nose. Spot-on, hilarious and brilliant 🙂

September 2, 2015 8:43 am

I know this isn’t really relevant to the science of the article, but “overdrive” has got to be the most overused and misused term ever.

September 2, 2015 8:57 am

Here’s my cyanobacteria cartoon:
Before Nuts

September 2, 2015 9:34 am

Reblogged this on Aussiedlerbetreuung und Behinderten – Fragen and commented:
Das, mein Tages-Kommentar, wird auch Frankreich, Spanien und Italien, Portugal und Polen passieren, siehe UNO – Versammlung im Dezember, mit Anwesenheit des USA-Firmenchef Obama und seinem Feindstaatenbesitz des Deutschen Reiches, als Alleinverwalter aus Vertrag Mai, 1990, Paris und unter allen Alliierten unterzeichnet und ratifiziert, so auch Geltung alles, was 1944 und mit Stalin in Jalta vereinbart!
Österreich ist nach dem Tode des Habsburger Monarchen nicht mehr befreit, sondern zu Reichsbesitz wieder dem Reiche der Deutschen zugehörig, das wissen die Bilderberger:
„Das Urteil aus dem ISTGH (Internationaler Strafgerichtshof) Den Haag vom 03.02.2012 bestätigt die Zuständigkeit des Deutschen Reichs und nicht die Zuständigkeit der “Bundesrepublik Deutschland“ mit ihrer Finanzagentur GmbH, (HRB 51411), wobei die vermeintlichen “BRD–Ämter”, Behörden, Dienststellen, “Gerichte” und Verwaltungen u.a . bei mit eigenen Umsatzsteuernummern gelistet sind.
Urteil des BverfGE vom 25.07.2012 (-2 BvF 3/11 -2 BvR 2670/11 -2 BvE 9/11):
Nach Offenkundigkeit dürfen Gesetze von nicht staatlichen BRD-GmbH Ausnahme– und Sondergerichten (vgl. § 15 GVG) die auf altem Nazigesetz fußen und somit gegen das gültige Besatzungsrecht, gegen die Völker – und Menschenrechte verstoßen, überhaupt keine legitime Anwendung finden.
Durch Verfassungswidrigkeit des Wahlgesetzes ist seit 1956 kein verfassungsgebenden Gesetzgeber am Werk. Damit sind alle BRD-Forderungen eine private Forderung.
Verstehen Sie das bitte! Alle BRD-Forderungen (Steuern jeglicher Art, GEZ-Gebühren usw. usf. sind private Forderungen, haben also keinerlei hoheitsrechtliche Rechtsgrundlage und müssen demnach auch nicht bezahlt werden. …………………….“
Zum Schluß auch für alle Völkerschaften, Indogene, Länder, Nationen:

Glück, Auf, meine Heimat!

johann wundersamer
September 2, 2015 10:52 am

‘Imagine being in a car with the gas pedal stuck to the floor, heading toward a cliff’s edge.’
MY previous car, 19 years old, had a jammed throttle cable.
force down clutch pedal + ignition off.
Then: Ignition Key on neutral position to prevent steering lock to fall in.
Coasting down.
as You like it:
let the clutch pedal come up to start anew.

johann wundersamer
September 2, 2015 11:03 am

to complete:
‘Imagine being in a car with the gas pedal stuck to the floor, heading toward a cliff’s
MY previous car, 19 years old, had a jammed throttle cable.
force down clutch pedal + ignition off.
Then: Ignition Key on neutral position to prevent steering lock to fall in.
Coasting down.
as You like it:
let the clutch pedal come up to start anew.

johann wundersamer
Reply to  johann wundersamer
September 2, 2015 11:19 am

with a ‘jammed throttle cable’ you head on 7500 RPM through midtown. unstoppable.
just to say. full stop.

Pat Moffitt
September 2, 2015 3:21 pm

The environmental factors controlling marine nitrogen fixation are hotly debated topics. The contribution of fixed N to the marine nitrogen cycle is also not well understood. A fuller understanding will be a long and arduous task given the inherent biogeochemical complexity, the magnitude of the unknowns and the variability of the ocean basins in both time and space.
An interesting 2013 paper found that nitrogen fixation in the North Atlantic responded to the earth’s orbital cycles and associated ocean circulation patterns finding a roughly 26,000 year cycle over the last 160,000 years. The changes in isotopic N (shells) could not be explained by temperature.

September 2, 2015 5:05 pm

The “threat” from cyanobacteria is simply bogus. There are typically 3 potentially limiting nutrients, C, N, and P. Since the ocean is alkaline, C is not limiting. And because alkalinity is decreasing, very likely N is not limiting either. Cyanobacteria have a growth advantage under N-limited conditions, and when N is not limiting, other organisms out-compete can cyanobacteria for resources. Let’s say cyanobacteria did have the chance to outgrow the other organisms, well, then P would become limiting. And that’s likely what conditions were during most of the last century. And if P were also not limiting, then S, Fe, Mg, or some other nutrient would be.
Cyanobacteria never had runaway growth in any significant part of the ocean. What has changed more recently? Very likely there is more agricultural runoff making its way into the ocean now. When N is not limiting, then other organisms can grow and use the available nutrients. And as a result, cyanobacteria do not need to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. The process of nitrogen fixation results in increased alkalinity. When nitrogen fixation is reduced from levels it had in the past, then alkalinity would be expected to fall in the ocean. That is what we have observed.
Ocean “acidification” almost certainly has nothing to do with increased atmospheric CO2 levels, but everything to do with a reduction in nitrogen fixation. If you want to restore the ocean, control ag runoff.

September 2, 2015 5:07 pm

Oops. A Yoda moment. I very sorry am.

September 2, 2015 5:38 pm

If there is going to be explosive growth of photosynthetic cyanobacteria, then ocean acidification and the accumulation of carbon dioxide will slow. Sounds great to me.
An explosion of cyanobacteria apparently was responsible for poisoning the atmosphere about 2.5 billion years ago. And the greens think humans are destructive.

September 2, 2015 10:47 pm

okay, here’s the f’n truth.
CO2, and dissolved organic carbon are at a diluted equilibrium in the oceans and the atmosphere. Both have been below a threshold value for biologic rapid consumption. As pCO2 has rapidly increased the sinks (biologic rapid response) kick in and are at the cusp of removing (kinetics) CO2 elevated levels. The boyz at MaunaLoa are now desparately trying to rectify their daily measurements to prevent this record CO2 drop. Biologic sinks of CO2 are kicking and NOAA does not want folks to see it.

September 3, 2015 1:39 pm

There’s an article in Wikipedia (my favorite source of science humor) on “Ocean Fertilization”. A guy named John Martin discovered that iron was the rate-limiting factor in cyanobacteria growth in parts of the ocean. Experiments followed with deliberate seeding of iron-poor waters with iron which resulted in blooms. This was posited as a way to sequester that noted air pollutant, CO2. Unfortunately, an over-expensive climate change-mitigating procedure, with unknown secondary effects if done on a large scale.
Article also commented that Sperm Whale defecation releases iron gained from food they ingest at the ocean depths.
Great article. Shows we are not doomed. We can either dump iron by the boatload or breed Sperm whales in large numbers and save the Earth.

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