Monday, June 26, 2006

Starving ocean animals--links to global warming?

Fish and birds have gone missing off the US west coast, and the culprit seems to be a lack of plankton, the base of the ocean food web.

Big surprise for the US west coast, which is one of the places in the world where lush ocean life is fueled by fairly reliable "upwelling." All thanks to winds and currents that collide in the springtime and bring nutrient-rich water burbling to the surface, creating a feeding frenzy. Imagine college students flocking to free pizza and beer.

Is there a link to global warming? Plankton expert John McGowan of Scripps Institution of Oceanography said there's "a great deal of disruption going on in food webs and it's climate related."

Salty John McGowan taught my first oceanography class and he's watched plankton in the region for 50 years. If he's worried then so am I.

1 comment:

Bohemond said...

This is the wrong way round: Overfishing is causing global warming, rather than global warming causing zooplankton depletion. No zooplankton means the phytoplankton are not grazed and so stop breeding. Only when these are breeding can the oceans absorb CO2. See the web site "The starving ocean"