Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Posts Tagged ‘Southern Ocean’

Iceberg off Mertz Glacier ‘disrupt ocean currents’?

Posted by feww on February 26, 2010

A large iceberg which calved from The Mertz Glacier Tongue in January [see Addendum] could ‘disrupt the ocean currents,’ and weather patterns globally, sensationalist scientists say.

The Mertz Glacier Tongue, which protrudes from East Antarctica, spawned the iceberg pictured below on or about January 10, 2010. The Iceberg is currently floating south of Melbourne, Australia.

The Mertz Glacier routinely spawns icebergs into the Southern Ocean, some of which drift north and disintegrate rapidly in warmer surroundings, while others circle the frozen continent and could stay relatively intact for many years, provided that they remain in cold waters.

Australian scientists have warned, however, that the 80-square-km iceberg (30 sq miles) could block a region which allegedly produces 25 percent of the world’s cold and dense seawater, BBC reported.

On January 10, 2010, the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this true-color image of an iceberg that had broken off the glacier tongue. Similar to the glacier that spawned it, this iceberg sports a rippled surface, accentuated by the Sun’s relatively low elevation in the sky when the image was collected. Measuring roughly 8.5 by 9.5 kilometers (5 by 6 miles), this iceberg is surrounded by smaller chunks of ice, which may have broken off the Mertz Glacier Tongue at the same time as the large iceberg, or after it calved.  NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, Caption by Michon Scott. Edited by FEWW. Click here for ESA image of the entire
glacier tongue.

A glaciologist at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Research Center in Tasmania, was quoted by the BBC as saying that any disruption to the production of the super cold water – known as bottom water – in the region would be detrimental to ocean currents, and therefore the weather patterns, for many years.

“This area accounts for about 25% of the production of bottom water in Antarctica, and therefore it will reduce the overturning circulation rate,” he said.

“You won’t see it immediately, but it has downstream effects. And it will also have implications for penguins and other wildlife in the region that normally use this area for feeding.”

The iceberg is floating in a polynya, an area of open water surrounded by sea-ice.  Latent heat polynyas are responsible for high ice production and possibly dense (high salinity) water production.

“Bottom water produced by polynyas sinks to the bottom of the sea and drives the conveyor-belt like ocean circulation around the globe.” BBC claimed.

“The ice tongue was almost broken already. It was hanging like a loose tooth,”  BBC quoted a French glaciologist as saying.

“If they [the icebergs] stay in this area – which is likely – they could block the production of this dense water, essentially putting a lid on the polynya.”

This map shows the pattern of thermohaline circulation also known as “meridional overturning circulation”. This collection of currents is responsible for the large-scale exchange of water masses in the ocean, including providing oxygen to the deep ocean. The entire circulation pattern takes  about 2000 years. Credit NASA.

Climate Change is bad news of epic proportions, of course,  and the accelerating rate of calving of icebergs is very alarming, indeed. However, despite its deep injuries, planet earth and its thermoline circulation system are far more resilient than to undergo dramatic changes due to a single iceberg.


Since posting the above, Fire-Earth moderators have been advised that the iceberg featured above is NOT the one which is the subject of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center.

The new iceberg apparently calved off from Mertz Glacier Tongue on or about February 13, 2010.

ESA © ENVISAT ASAR image from the 16th of February 2010 showing the iceberg newly calved from the Mertz Glacier Tongue. The final separation did not simply occur along all the line of the two pre-existing rifts but sheared across some sections to produce a clean line. The iceberg is now turning about a point at its north-west corner which confirms our belief that is has been resting against a relatively shallow point of the sea-floor. Caption: ACECRC.

According to the ACECRC website the iceberg that calved from the Mertz Glacier is 78 km long and has a surface area of 2,500 square km. The new iceberg broke off the Mertz Glacier Tongue after a 97km long iceberg smashed into it.

Although the new iceberg is about 30 times larger than the one featured in NASA image (Top of the page), the Fire-Earth Moderators’ initial assessment remains UNCHANGED.

The Moderators do NOT believe the new calving would ADVERSELY affect the large scale ocean circulation, or have any significant climatic impact.

Further more, they see absolutely NO reason why the iceberg may cause significant modifications in the local marine environment.

Additional Notes:

The BBC Himalayan Straw Man?

The Moderators also note that the BBC has since changed the text of the page linked to above

However, the page was accidentally saved on disk …

BBC’s initial post, which has since been replaced by an entirely different text. Click image to enlarge. Image may be subject to copyright.

BBC’s 2nd version using the same URL was a pathetic dolphin tearjerker, which has since been removed.
Click image to enlarge. Image may be subject to copyright.

Posted in australia, glaciology, Latent heat polynya, polynya, The Mertz Glacier Polynya, thermohaline circulation | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Eco-Terrorism and Dead Rare Sunfish

Posted by feww on June 27, 2009

Guilty of Eco-Terrorism: Tourists and Tour Operators

Eco-Tourists [sic] and Eco Tour Operators [sic] are systematically destroying the fragile marine environment in the south Pacific and Southern [Antarctic] oceans.

“Eco-tourists” love dead natural beauty, at least according to a short article in New Zealand Nelson Mail:

“Tourists being guided along Farewell Spit were mesmerised by more than just the area’s natural beauty yesterday.

“A large sunfish, about 2 metres long, and 2m wide from fintip to fintip, was spotted as Farewell Spit Eco Tours driver John Stevens was heading towards the spit with a busload of tourists.”

Dead Rare SunfishDo the eco-terrorists get a warm sensation rushing through their body knowing they are alive and can spot the dad rare sunfish, but the dead fish can’t see them?

Look What We Caught! [Original caption: STRANGE FIND.  Shelley Climo from the Farewell Spit Eco Tours office with the sunfish, found near Puponga township.] Photo: PADDY GILLOOLY/Farewell Spit Eco Tour (Via Nelson Mail). Image may be subject to copyright.

According to Farewell Spit Eco Tours owner Paddy Gillooly “the sunfish fascinated the tourists.”

“It was quite a good way to start the day. It’s one of the biggest ones I’ve seen.”

“The day before, tourists had seen a small dead minke whale that had washed up on the spit, and had since been washed away again.” The Nelson Mail said.

How very revealing!

“Mr Gillooly said he had seen about half a dozen sunfish washed up at the spit over the years. Because they could not manoeuvre easily, they could get washed into shallow water and stuck there.”

But do they all die of natural causes [sic]?

They were also a “very hard fish”, he said.

“Boaties and yachts sometimes [very often] run into them, and the yacht will [sometimes] come off second best.”


The world cannot survive with the impact of airline industry and tourism, but the “economy” can cope without the two!

Related Links:

Posted in eco-terrorism, Farewell Spit, marine ecology, sunfish, tasman sea massacre | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Southern Ocean Carbon Sink

Posted by feww on July 2, 2008

From NASA’s Earth Observatory:

Southern Ocean Carbon Sink

If you drove to work or school this morning or used electricity to power the computer on which you’re looking at this image, chances are you released carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, people released about 7.8 billion tons (7.8 gigatons) of carbon into the atmosphere in 2005 by burning fossil fuels and making cement, and that number grows every year. What happens to all of the carbon dioxide that people release into the atmosphere? About half stays in the atmosphere, where it warms Earth, and the other half is absorbed by growing plants on land and by the ocean.

As people have put more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the ocean has responded by soaking up more carbon dioxide—a trend scientists expected to continue for many years. But in 2007, a team of scientists reported in the journal Science that between 1981 and 2004 carbon dioxide concentrations in the Southern Ocean didn’t change at all, even though global atmospheric levels continued to rise. This graph shows the changes scientists expected to see (blue line) compared to their estimate of actual carbon dioxide absorption (red line). The results suggested that the Southern Ocean was no longer keeping pace with human carbon dioxide emissions.

Why has the Southern Ocean started to lag behind human emissions? The answer, believes Corinne Le Quéré, is in the wind. An ocean scientist at the University of East Anglia, Le Quéré led the study that discovered the Southern Ocean’s change of pace. Le Quéré modeled the mechanisms that influence how the ocean takes up carbon and found that winds increased between 1981 and 2004. Winds stirred the ocean and enhanced the upwelling of deep, carbon-rich water. The ocean releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in areas where deep water comes to the surface, so increased upwelling allowed the ocean to vent more carbon dioxide. This increased venting made it look like the Southern Ocean was no longer taking up carbon dioxide as quickly as people were pumping it into the atmosphere.

Full article and references are available at: Southern Ocean Carbon Sink

Related Links:

  • Human carbon emissions make oceans corrosive : ‘Carbon dioxide spewed by human activities has made ocean water so acidic that it is eating away at the shells and skeletons of starfish, coral, clams and other sea creatures …’

Posted in energy, environment, food, Global Warming, health, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »