The Ocean – New Discoveries of the Deep
By Gunner Glam
Despite nearly every corner of land on Earth’s surface having been explored, the oceans still have mysteries which are being stumbled upon each year.
Studio Brow is about discovering new ways to make people feel good and look beautiful, like an ocean view.
According to the web site, Climatide, there are five discoveries of the ocean people should know about:
1. First Census of Marine Life completed
October 2010 marked the end of a decade-long, international effort to catalogue the diversity of life in the ocean.
The work of some 2,700 scientists from 80 nations resulted in thousands of new species being described, upping the total number of known marine species to almost 250,000.
Scientists estimate that there may be over a million kinds of marine life that earn the rank of species, plus tens or even hundreds of millions of microbes.
A number of scientists involved in the Census said one of the most shocking discoveries was the frequency and rate at which species are being driven into decline, even extinction.
2. Dramatic phytoplankton decline linked to warming seas
Pioneering work combining over a century of low-tech observations with modern modeling and mapping resulted in a dramatic (if somewhat controversial) finding – evidence of a 40 percent decline in phytoplankton (the microscopic marine plants that generate half of the oxygen on Earth) since 1950, strongly linked to rising ocean temperatures.
Phytoplankton are the foundation of the marine food web, draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide, and produce half the oxygen on Earth.
The decline has ramifications for all life on Earth.
3. Ocean acidification is happening NOW
Over the course of the past 200 years, the ocean has absorbed nearly a third of carbon dioxide emissions, resulting in a 30 percent increase in ocean acidity – a phenomenon known as ocean acidification.
Acidic water conditions impair the ability of animals like oysters and corals to extract the calcium carbonate they need to build their skeletons or shells. Scientists have generally considered such impacts of ocean acidification to be a problem of the (near) future.
In September 2010, two marine scientists from Stony Brook University published a study that forced a revision of that thinking by demonstrating that modern carbon dioxide levels produce shellfish with thinner shells, slower growth and death rates almost double those of shellfish grown in pre-industrial water conditions.
4. People are NOT fishing down the food chain
For years, prevailing wisdom has held that people are “fishing down the food chain” – over-harvesting the top-level predators, then moving on to fish lower and lower on the chain. But new research showing catches of fish (and other marine life) at all levels of the food chain have generally increased since the 1970s has upended this theory, leaving scientists and managers fishing for a new measure of ecosystem health.
5. There is plastic in the Atlantic, too
Scientists have long known that plastic debris accumulates in parts of the northern Pacific Ocean bounded by circular ocean currents, or gyres; these regions have been called The Great Pacific Garbage Patches.
Scientists from Sea Education Association and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution confirmed what many have suspected for years: that there is a similar accumulation of plastic debris in the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the most interesting findings in the landmark study was the fact that, while plastic use and disposal has skyrocketed in recent years, the amount of floating plastic debris has not changed much.
That begs the question – where is all the extra plastic going? Answering that question should keep scientists busy for years to come.
In addition, there are important facts scientists have announced in recent years.
June 8, 2010 — On this World Oceans Day, more than 245 marine scientists from 35 countries called for a global system of ocean parks to help preserve waning marine species like this rainbow fish in the Coral Sea.
Sylvia Earle, world renowned oceanographer and one of the signatories said, “Marine scientists understand the immediate need to set aside more and larger marine reserves to give our oceans a chance to recover and replenish. Although some progress has been made, we hope that the public and world leaders pay attention to this message and act before it is too late.’’
Australia’s Coral Sea is one of the last remaining places on Earth where populations of jellyfish like this one, as well as large fish such as sharks, tuna and billfish, remain healthy.
The Australian government is considering the Coral Sea for such a reserve, as such large reserves are rare.
Only 0.4 percent of the world’s oceans are fully protected from extractive activities, such as drilling, fishing and mining.
By comparison, more than 30 times as much land area — 5.8 percent of the world’s land — has been set aside.
“A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.” – Gloria Stuart
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