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Old 29-07-2010, 06:14   #1
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Mass Plankton Die-Off

I'm cross posting this from a different forum I belong to. I believe that, as cruisers let alone as humans, we should be aware of the state of our oceans.

This is more than a bit depressing so you may want to skip it.

The cliff notes version is that, for whatever reason, the photoplankton which are the bedrock of our food chain are declining rapidly. Estimates of the decrease range from a low of 40% to a high of 73%.

Quotes from and links to three articles are attached. I knew that the oceans were under stress, but not to this degree. If this holds up it is not good news.


Quote:
Despite their tiny size, plant plankton found in the world's oceans are crucial to much of life on Earth. They are the foundation of the bountiful marine food web, produce half the world's oxygen and suck up harmful carbon dioxide.

And they are declining sharply.

Worldwide phytoplankton levels are down 40 percent since the 1950s, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The likely cause is global warming, which makes it hard for the plant plankton to get vital nutrients, researchers say.

The numbers are both staggering and disturbing, say the Canadian scientists who did the study and a top U.S. government scientist.

Half a million datapoints dating to 1899 show that plant plankton levels in nearly all of the world's oceans started to drop in the 1950s. The biggest changes are in the Arctic, southern and equatorial Atlantic and equatorial Pacific oceans.

"These tiny species are indicating that large-scale changes in the ocean are affecting the primary productivity of the planet," said Burkett, who wasn't involved in the study.

"Much of the oxygen in our atmosphere today was produced by phytoplankton or phytoplankton precursors over the past 2 billion years."
Full article link
Mass Plankton Die-Off Threatens Ocean Eco-System - KFWB NEWS TALK 980

Quote:
The scientists found that the average global phytoplankton concentration in the upper ocean currently declines by around 1% per year. Since 1950 alone, algal biomass decreased by around 40%, probably in response to ocean warming — and the decline has gathered pace in recent years.

"Clearly, 40% is a huge number," says Paul Falkowski, an oceanographer at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. "This implies that the entire ocean system is out of steady state, slowing down."

"This is severely disquieting," adds Victor Smetacek, a marine biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany. "One must really digest the very magnitude of this decline and its possible implications."

"The study adds to a growing body of global ocean research, all evidencing a fundamentally common result: the net effect of a warming ocean surface is a reduction in phytoplankton surface chlorophyll concentration," says Michael Behrenfeld, a marine ecologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
Full article link
Ocean greenery under warming stress : Nature News

Quote:
Today comes the startling news of a British government report showing a drop in oceanic zooplankton of 73 percent since 1960.

We were profoundly shocked to read that zooplankton abundance has declined by about 73% since 1960 and about 50% since 1990. “This is a biodiversity disaster of enormous proportions.” A graph shown in the report charts a steady decline in zooplankton from 1990 to 2006.

For many people, this may seem relatively inconsequential as compared to daily cataclysmic revelations about the state of the national and global economy. This reaction is understandable: we care first and foremost about our own immediate survival prospects, and a new and greater Depression will mean millions losing their homes, millions more their jobs. It's nothing to look forward to.

It takes some scientific literacy to appreciate the implications of the catastrophic loss of microscopic sea animals. We need to understand that these are food for crustaceans and fish, which are food for sea birds and mammals. We need to appreciate the importance of the oceanic food web in the planetary biosphere.
Full article link
Top of the Food Chain
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Old 29-07-2010, 06:22   #2
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British Govt says 73%?

Look, the British Govt has trouble telling it's ar#e from it's elbow, I would not treat anything they claim as true. Next week they will be claiming a Plankton epidemic

In any case plenty of Plankton left at the moment long term might have to adjust the human population a bit but that's easily done, with a bit of willpower. A few less folks (none) in certain parts of the world would cut my taxes as well and keep the Plankton happy

Join my new NGO Pressure Group "Garbage has rights too!".......we wanna create special areas on land and sea where Garbage can roam free safe from the threat of extermination.
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Old 29-07-2010, 07:51   #3
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Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
British Govt says 73%?

Look, the British Govt has trouble telling it's ar#e from it's elbow, I would not treat anything they claim as true. Next week they will be claiming a Plankton epidemic

In any case plenty of Plankton left at the moment long term might have to adjust the human population a bit but that's easily done, with a bit of willpower. A few less folks (none) in certain parts of the world would cut my taxes as well and keep the Plankton happy

Join my new NGO Pressure Group "Garbage has rights too!".......we wanna create special areas on land and sea where Garbage can roam free safe from the threat of extermination.
David, such attitudes are officially politically incorrect. Global Warming Denial has been defined as a crime by Statute 988-233.4 of the EU Criminal Code. Such humour at the expense of sacred cows will not be permitted. You will soon receive instructions about where and when to report to your local re-education camp for attitude correction.

Meanwhile your computer, telephone, and all electronic communications will be monitored for further examples of incorrect attitudes.
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Old 29-07-2010, 08:26   #4
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more true than fiction.... but I'm not sure about the ocean stuff. LoL
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Old 29-07-2010, 09:14   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
British Govt says 73%?
73% is a massively startling figure. A decrease of that amount should leave the oceans empty of marine life because the plankton are at the bottom of the food chain.

Let us get it into perspective - extinction level events where of lesser scale. The KT event that wiped out the dinosaurs took out 75% of all life, the Triassic/Jurassic event took out 50% and even "The Big One" (The permian event) only got up to 85%. Other events did 50% - 60%

Now, I know that extinctions are for ALL life on the planet, but is anyone seriously proposing that 73% of zooplankton could just vanish and no one noticed until a govt report appeared?

The problem is that many of these tests are done by proxy - you do a test, get result XXX and then infer what is happening to YYYY rather than observing YYYY directly. For example, phytoplankton are observed by using a Secchi disc which you lower into water and watch until it vanishes and you then measure the depth it disappears at. Since phytoplankton absorb light the depth it disappears at tells you how many phytoplankton are between you and the disc. In other words, from the depth you infer the plankton count.

What if some other factor is at work? What if the oceans are simply cleaner than they were 40 years ago? Look at a picture of London in the 1950s and with smog you could not see from one end of the street to the other end. Now the air in London is so clear you can see for miles yet the London of the 1950s was not a better place to live. Maybe we simply dump less muck at sea (sewage?).

I find 73% too big to be believable.
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Old 29-07-2010, 10:18   #6
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There is also the clean up the oceans policy, driven by the survivalist greens, that meant sewage is no longer fed to the plankton, it's recycled. What are the little critters supposed to eat now.
And don't ignore the DDT effect that america contributed too, it's all in the sea now! Guess what happened to the plankton, starved by the greens, poisoned by the chemicals.
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Old 29-07-2010, 10:46   #7
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Factors of only 2-5% are the difference between life and extinction so how do we see a drop in the order of 75% and yet we are still here.

Ask yourself, whos behind the data, how they recorded it, who paid them to do it and what is the objective?

Call me cyincal but im a cynical realist
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Old 29-07-2010, 11:12   #8
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A study in Nature says the plankton die-off is 40% since the 50s. Satellite data confirms it:

Plankton, Base Of Ocean Food Web, In Big Decline : NPR

here's some other interesting tidbits - all part of the massive worldwide conspiracy, of course!:

2010 had the hottest June ever - Yahoo! News

NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA: Past Decade Warmest on Record According to Scientists in 48 Countries
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Old 29-07-2010, 11:20   #9
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on a brighter note the sailing the past few years has been the best I can remember. Good winds with a few more nasty late day storms though. After diving the boat last week and giving it a good scrubbing I think 30% of the worlds plankton was on my boats bottom. I have released it back to the wilds.
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Old 29-07-2010, 11:21   #10
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Maybe the bullet has left the barrel but hasn't struck it's target yet?

Logic says that if we dump chemicals and trash into the ocean, it will change the environment (for the worse). Just like if we allow someone to poop in the middle of our kitchen and proceed to try and cook and eat with that stinkin mess nearby. I don't know about the die off %, but I do know the ocean cannot handle what we are throwing at it for very long without some consequences, that is just logic.

We all love the ocean or we wouldn't be here mucking around on boats, if we won't be outraged over the mass pollution of our oceans who will?

And be afraid if we are relying on any government to know what the heck is going on, be very afraid.

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Old 29-07-2010, 12:14   #11
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One large source of pollution is fertilizers that get washed out from mono-crop type agriculture. I wonder if the nitrogen levels we are adding to our coastal waters is impacting plankton?

I also find 73% hard to believe- seems very chicken little. Like Twain said. There are lies, damn lies and statistics. I get to play with statistics every day in an effort to prove or disprove various hypothesis. It is very easy to make the data fit your bias. It is very hard to have the acumen to negate and critique your methods with no bias. (Or an opposite bias.) Good scientists will do this. Especially when peer reviewing someone's work. I get suspicious when the same group of experts all review work within their circle of bias. Shouldn't good science be about putting the data "out there" and letting people rip it to pieces so that all can learn from it? Just doesn't seem to happen that way in the real world anymore.
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Old 29-07-2010, 12:54   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
... Today comes the startling news of a British government report showing a drop in oceanic zooplankton of 73 percent since 1960.

We were profoundly shocked to read that zooplankton abundance has declined by about 73% since 1960 and about 50% since 1990. “This is a biodiversity disaster of enormous proportions.” A graph shown in the report charts a steady decline in zooplankton from 1990 to 2006 ...

Full article link
Top of the Food Chain
Reportedly, the data were included without further comment in a graph on page nine of DEFRA's 2008-2009 Marine Program Plan.

I cannot locate an online copy of DEFRA's 2008-2009 Marine Program Plan, to confirm or deny any of these assertions.

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/...book200809.pdf
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Old 29-07-2010, 13:22   #13
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If Gord cannot find it, then something is definitely amiss!
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Old 29-07-2010, 13:49   #14
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This plankton die-off is indeed depressing. I'm sure FOX Fabrication News Network will have a field-day debunking the obvious.
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Old 29-07-2010, 14:46   #15
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Wall Stree Journal - today

Vital Marine Plants in Steep Decline

Rising Temperatures Harm Ocean Plant Life - WSJ.com

Quote:
Consistent satellite-based measurements of the algae exist only from 1997. Scientists at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, instead used data obtained with a simple oceanography device used since the late 1800s known as a Secchi—a disk lowered into the water to measure phytoplankton abundance.

By collating and analyzing about half a million Secchi observations, plus other direct measurements of algae, the Dalhousie team estimated that phytoplankton levels declined by about 1% of the global average each year from 1899 onward. The data are more reliable for recent decades, translating into a 40% decline since 1950.
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