Ocean Seeding – A New Technology that can Save Marine Life

People have relied on the abundance of the ocean since the beginning of human history. But things are rapidly changing. Scientists project that by 2048 the ocean will be depleted and fisheries will cease to exist. Billions of people rely on fish as their primary source of food and income – a number that will continue to grow over the next few decades as the world population increases. A collapse of ocean fisheries will be a massive threat to the food security and well-being of life on this planet. Nations around the world are pursuing better management practices and sustainable fishing in an attempt to curb this loss… but it is not enough. Despite our efforts, the health of the ocean is decaying even faster than initially predicted. Moreover, we have discovered that overfishing is only part of the problem. To see the bigger picture, we have to go much, much smaller. The whole oceanic ecosystem obtains its energy, food, and nutrients from tiny green phytoplankton – microscopic organisms that play a critical role as the base of the marine food chain. They grow and multiply through the absorption of sunlight – alongside water, carbon dioxide, and micronutrients such as iron.

Phytoplankton are the food of zooplankton, which in turn are consumed by small fish, which are themselves consumed by larger ones and so on. For their health, phytoplankton depend on the natural fertilization of iron-rich winds and upwelling currents, which have been ongoing for millions of years. However, as a result of climate change, winds and currents are changing, and the oceans are getting warmer. This hinders the mixing of surface layers, separating phytoplankton from the nutrients they need to grow. A NASA study has shown a constant decrease of phytoplankton in the ocean… 1% per year since 1950. That means plankton has declined more than 40% in just 60 years. When phytoplankton are in danger, the whole ocean is in danger. Less plankton means less food for fish and other organisms. With the continual decline of plankton, we are facing the collapse of the marine food chain as we know it due to climate change.

The question is: WHAT CAN BE DONE? Over the last several decades, scientists have observed that the iron-rich dust of volcanic eruptions can create massive plankton blooms over deserted areas of the ocean. On several occasions, scientists saw the volume of wild fish in these areas increase significantly – far beyond expectations. Given these observations, experts began to consider what might happen if humans could mimic natural volcanic iron fertilization to boost ocean life. This process is known as OCEAN SEEDING. In a recent Ocean Seeding project, researchers added iron dust to an area of the ocean that was part of the migratory route of juvenile salmon. Only a year later, mainland rivers experienced one of the largest salmon returns in history. Ocean Seeding offers an opportunity to begin repairing the damage to our ocean, rebuild wild fish stock, and improve food security for the growing populations of the world. This vital shift cannot be made without further research in Ocean Seeding and your support. Support us by sharing this video with your friends on social media.

And join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #OceanSeeding.

NASA | Massive Phytoplankton Bloom Discovered Under Arctic Sea Ice

[ Bells ] Scientists have found a massive phytoplankton bloom growing beneath sea ice in the Arctic. The discovery, captured on video and shown here, stunned scientists, as an under-ice bloom of this size has never been seen anywhere on the planet. The bloom was spotted last summer by a team of scientists collecting field measurements for NASA's ICESCAPE mission, which explores the effects of climate change in the Arctic. Sampling took place at multiple sites along two tracks of ice-covered water in the Chukchi Sea, just north of Alaska. According to observations, the bloom extended for more than 60 miles from the ice edge into the sea ice pack and concentrated in the top layers of water near the ocean surface. Video footage taken below the sea ice at two different study sites contrasts the Arctic's typically barren and dark blue water with the emerald shades of green produced when teeming with phytoplankton. The blooms consisted mainly of diatoms — microscopic plants that make up the base of the marine food chain and require large amounts of sunlight to grow.

Scientists previously thought blooms were limited to ice-free expanses of open water, where sunlight isn't reflected by sea ice and prevented from entering the ocean. But thinning ice and an increase in melt ponds has allowed more sunlight to reach the water below the sea ice in recent years, which may account for the presence of these massive blooms. If such blooms are widespread, scientists will have to evaluate the impact of these carbon-consumers on the amount of carbon dioxide entering the ocean, and what that means for our changing climate. [ Beeps ] .

Jim Sullivan 03/02/16 Phytoplankton Form and Function in the Turbulent Ocean

Thanks, Dennis. And thank you all for coming out to the late show. This is where we work the blue material. So like Dennis said, today I'm going to talk to you about phytoplankton and some of the amazing adaptations they have to exist and thrive in our oceans. For those of you who were here about a month ago, a colleague of mine also from URI – Jan Rines – gave a talk on the dazzling diversity of marine life and microscopic life in the ocean. This is really a follow onto that talk, except for I'm going to look at one specific group of organisms – the phytoplankton in the ocean. I'm going to try to give you a quick 45-minute course in phytoplankton ecology. So what are phytoplankton? It's Greek for a drifting or wandering plant. And they are microscopic plants, and we commonly call them algae. A lot of people also call them protists because they have characteristics of both animals and plants as you're going to see. They kind of skirt the world in between the two things.

It's hard to categorize a lot of them. In almost everything I'm going to talk about today, all these organisms are single cells – a complete organism. They don't have a brain. They don't have a nervous system. They're complete single cell organisms, but they're not simple organisms. For those of you who know SpongeBob SquarePants, this character is called Plankton. He's drawn after a diatom – a phytoplankton in the ocean. And he's one of the more complex characters in this cartoon. He wants to control the world and just take over the world. And I think he's a good analog. These are not simple organisms. And SpongeBob was created by a marine biologist, and I think he did it on purpose. So we'll start off with, what is the difference between a phytoplankton or a plant cell and an animal cell? We're animals. Phytoplankton generally are considered plants. There are a lot of things we share in common with plants. We're all organisms of some type that came from the same thing eventually. We have mitochondria just like plants do.

Mitochondria are like the powerhouse of the cell. We both have a nucleus. Our nucleus is where the DNA or the genetic material of organism is stored. And there's a whole bunch of what we call organelles, and these are specialized membrane-bound functional areas where specific things are done to keep the cell going. Both cells have cytoplasm or the goop that is inside of a cell. The thing that makes plants somewhat different is that they have chloroplasts, and chloroplasts, for those of you that don't know, are little organelles that allow a plant to conduct photosynthesis. Plant cells also have a very large cell vacuole. This is like an empty space in the cell. Animal cells have cell vacuoles too but they're usually much smaller and not as important. And a big difference is, plant cells have a cell wall.

Animal cells have a cell membrane and so do plant cells, but a lot of plant cells have a thick cell wall made of various material. While I'll say this is a general phytoplankton cell, a lot of phytoplankton are also bacteria. So the difference between a bacteria and a eukaryotic cell, which has a nucleus, is that it has no membrane-bound organelles. It doesn't have a nucleus. It doesn't have any of these other things. Everything just kind of floats around inside of it. But there are a lot of phytoplankton that are large bacteria in the ocean. Here are two simple slides of a phytoplankton cell and an animal cell. On the left here, you see the phytoplankton cell. You can see it definitely has cell structure. That's because of its cell wall. It's all brown. This is all the pigments from the chloroplasts that are in it. This is where the nucleus is. And on the right hand side is an animal cell. You can see it's kind of an amorphous little blob. There's its nucleus. No pigment.

This animal cell is actually from us. If you were to swab your cheek and take the liquid that comes off and put it on a microscope slide, this is what you see. It's a cheek cell, a human cheek cell. Both of these cells are about the same size. They're 50 microns, roughly, in size. For reference, 50 microns is slightly less than the diameter of your hair. So these are truly microscopic organisms. They're very small. You can barely see them with your eyes, if at all. The size range of phytoplankton can go anywhere from ten times smaller than 50 to ten times larger. So they can go anywhere from five microns – even a little bit smaller – all the way up to 500 microns, which you can easily see with your eye. Just to reiterate, phytoplankton cells are a single cell and it's a complete organism. For us, it takes roughly 37 trillion cells to create a human.

And you'll see that they can do many of the things we can do with just one. So why are phytoplankton important? Who knows what this formula represents? It should be the most famous formula in the world, more than Einstein's e=mc2. Who knows what this is? Photosynthesis. I heard someone say it. So this is the photosynthetic equation where you take carbon dioxide and water, and in the presence of sunlight and chloroplasts – so plants that can conduct photosynthesis – you produce glucose and oxygen. Both of these products of photosynthesis are really important and I'll take both of them separately. The first is oxygen. This is a hard number to put an exact value on, but somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of earth's oxygen is produced by phytoplankton. If you like to breathe, you should really appreciate phytoplankton. You've got to look at – this is a shot of the earth. They call it the big blue marble for a reason. There is a lot more water from land.

This is the Pacific Ocean and you can barely see any land in here, and it's filled with phytoplankton. So you can appreciate the scale of where this number comes from. This is also important too, for those of you who don't know what glucose is. It's sugar. This is one of my favorite sugars. So this is what we do as animals. We do respiration. We eat sugars or other things. We breathe oxygen and then we exhale carbon dioxide and water vapor. This whole thing feeds back what we exhale – the plants use and it's a nice round, recyclable reaction. That production – that food – the donuts that these phytoplankton create – again, it's a hard number to put a value on, but we know pretty sure that greater than 50 percent of the earth's primary production is produced by phytoplankton. So phytoplankton are the base of the world's food chain.

So in this cartoon, for people who know SpongeBob SquarePants and Plankton, he wanted to take over the world. Phytoplankton do rule the world. Them and bacteria – without them, we would not be here. For those of you who aren't biologists or don't get the concept of a food chain, this is a really, really simple one. We have phytoplankton growing in sunlight, doing their primary production. They are eaten by zooplankton which are like shrimp-like, crab-like crustaceans that live in the ocean. They're eaten by small fish which are in turn eaten by larger fish and larger fish until we get to the largest apex predators, and whales and big things like that. I have this big arrow pointing to humans here. We take food out of every part of this food chain. We harvest shrimp, and crabs, and other zooplankton. We obviously eat a lot of small fish like anchovies and things like that.

We eat mackerel. We definitely eat mahi-mahi and other large fish. And we eat sharks and harvest whales, unfortunately, for a long time. We actually also harvest phytoplankton, too. Phytoplankton are used as a food supplement. So we need this entire food chain and it is critically important to our survival. In the ocean, there is amazing algal diversity. And what I mean by that is it's estimated there are one to two million species of unique phytoplankton out there. This is something that has puzzled phytoplankton ecologists for a really long time. It's, why? And this was first posed – or one of the better posing of this question – by Hutchinson in 1961 in a paper called The Paradox of the Plankton. He asked the question, "How is it possible for a number of species to coexist in a relatively isotropic – which means uniform – or unstructured environment, all competing for the same sort of things?" And what he is trying to ask in an easier way is, "Why are there so many species in this simple environment?" When you look out at the ocean – in a horizontal sense when you look over it, it seems like this vast, unchanging, uniform environment.

It looks like a desert. And when you look at a desert, you say, "I don't see one or two million kinds of plants there. There's just a few that have learned how to survive and that's it." So it's, why do we have so many species? And the reason is, yes, in a horizontal sense the ocean does seem like a desert. But the vertical ocean has another dimension. It changes very rapidly and it changes rapidly in a lot of ways. This simple graph shows depth going down – so this is going deeper in the water column – versus the amount of different parameters we can measure in the ocean. Light decreases exponentially. A lot of light at the surface. You go down deep enough, there's no light at all. There's a whole bunch of other things that a lot of things need to exist in the ocean. There's nutrients, the temperature, or the density of the water, CO2, PH. All these vary in some way with depth. Sometimes they're lower at the surface and higher at depth.

Sometimes they're higher at surface and lower at depth. The point is that this complex vertical structure – and this can change. The ocean can change in a foot. It can actually change in just a couple inches – radically change. This complex structure creates what we call niche space. It creates unique environments that certain organisms learn how to exploit. This is where we get that amazing species diversity from. There's a lot of different phytoplankton groups in the ocean. The early ecologists looked at them and one of the easiest ways to categorize them was by color, so that's what we have now when we group them into these larger groups. We have the blue-green algae, and this is this group I was talking about. These are called the cyanobacteria. They truly are bacteria.

They grow in a lot of places. I'll talk about some of the problems they create a little bit later. There's the red and green algae, and the golden-brown algae. I don't have time to talk about them all. That would be a whole course in phytoplankton ecology. I'm going to specifically look at two of the major groups that are in the ocean. These are probably the most important when you're dealing with phytoplankton ecology – the diatoms and the dinoflagellates. If you look at this photo – this is pure cultures of all these different groups – you can see the amazing color they have. This is due to the different pigments they have and how they absorb light. This is a pure culture of diatoms. This is a pure culture of dinoflagellates.

And you can see they belong kind of in the golden-brown algae. So if we're going to compare and contrast diatoms and dinoflagellates, we'll start here. These are some SEM – scanning electron microscope – micrographs of some single cells of each of these groups. You can see here the diatoms are very symmetrical. They look like pillboxes. However, the dinoflagellates are not very symmetrical and they have a lot of odd shapes. They have horns, and spines, and various appendages. The diatoms are made out of silica glass. This cell wall, which I talked about that these plants have, is actually made of quartz. While the dinoflagellates, for the most part, most of them their cell wall is cellulose. It's tree bark, essentially. So if you look at living pictures – those are SEM's. Those are dead cells, basically the hollow remnant of their cell wall.

These are some live shots of diatoms and dinoflagellates. I'll go through and compare what makes these two groups different. Diatoms are generally considered nonmotile. They don't swim. Dinoflagellates can actively swim. You'll see a great example of this in a minute. I put this in quotes that they're nonmotile because diatoms actually can move. They can change the buoyancy of their self. So like a helium balloon floats in the atmosphere, a diatom can become lighter and float in the water. It can also become heavier and sink. They can control how they go up and down. So while they can't actively swim, they can move in the ocean. Diatoms are generally considered colonial. That means you have a lot of single cells that live together in a colony. So each one of these is an individual cell of a diatom. These are all individual cells. This is hundreds of individual cells in a big, blob-like colony. Dinoflagellates are normally solitary. They live as single cells.

While it's not always true – this is a colony or a chain of dinoflagellates and these occur as single cells. For the most part diatoms are colonial organisms – they live as a group – and dinoflagellates live as solitary organisms. As far as their growth, diatoms are really fast growers. They can divide – create a copy of themselves – in usually one day, sometimes less. Dinoflagellates, comparatively much slower grower. On average, they divide every two to three days they'll create a copy of themselves. My colleague up at URI, Dr. Ted Smeda, came up with two great words to describe how these things exist in the ocean. He calls diatoms "perennial plants" and dinoflagellates "annual plants". And what he means by that – when you go out and look in a drop of water in the ocean, you'll almost always find diatoms. They're there year round. They're always there. They're probably the most important phytoplankton on the earth.

Of that 50 percent of primary production that is created by phytoplankton, they're responsible for half of that. So they have the most primary production of any phytoplankton. Dinoflagellates are considered annual. They're not always there. But when they arrive once a year, or a couple of times a year when the conditions are right, they can make massive blooms of cells. And you'll see examples of that shortly. And in the way these things adapt and try to exist in the ocean – the diatoms, their life strategy is relatively uniform. They all kind of act the same way. But dinoflagellates have amazing and unique adaptations, and that's what I'm going to concentrate on now for a little bit in this talk. I'll circle back to the diatoms at the end, but I was trained as a dinoflagellate biologist so they fascinate me. Dinoflagellates – their name is a combination of Greek and Latin. It means whirling whip. This is a very low magnification – now it's getting higher – of these dinoflagellates.

And as you can see, they can swim. They can move. They have two flagella. One that wraps around their body. One that trails. And it gives this very characteristic kind of rotating motion as they move. On this last shot you can see very clearly this little flagella there. So they're highly motile. Dinoflagellates, as I said, they have really – as a group they have really complex lifeform strategies. And what I mean by that is they can be what we call autotrophic, which means they're straight plants. They're photosynthetic. They can also be what we call heterotrophic, meaning they're not plants at all. They're predators. They eat other phytoplankton. And they do it with feeding nets, and stinging harpoons, and little appendages that can grab other organisms. Here you're seeing a dinoflagellate that has a feeding net out, and it's actually captured a colony of diatoms. It's going to suck the cell contents out of that to survive. There's also a group that are what we call mixotrophic.

They do both. They have chloroplasts. They can photoshynthesize just like a plant, but they also eat things. If they need to supplement their nutrition, they'll go after and eat another dinoflagellate or eat a diatom. We have a great analog for this. A lot of people know what the Venus flytrap is. That is a plant. But when it wants to supplement its' nutrition, it captures flies and other insects and eats them. We also have a group that are born as heterotrophs. So they're born as predators. They don't photosynthesize. But these have learned how to capture photosynthetic organisms and steal their chloroplast, and not digest them but use them. They will become autotrophic. So they're born as animals but they become plants when they want to. Dinoflagellates also can form symbioses with other organisms. Almost everyone knows about this. This is coral. So if we have a coral here and it spawns, it puts out its larvae – as the larvae is developing, it gets infected or it acquires this dinoflagellate called Symbiodinium. Symbiodinium starts to reproduce in the flesh of the coral, and as the coral settles and grows it gets filled with these dinoflagellates.

And all these little brown spots you see in there are individual dinoflagellate cells that live there. And it's truly a symbiotic relationship. The coral gets the photosynthetic product from the Symbiodinium dinoflagellate. It gets the donut, so to speak, and the oxygen that they produce. And the dinoflagellate gets the CO2 that it needs directly from the coral while it's respiring – it's an animal. It also gets shelter and it gets inorganic products left over from the coral eating. So they both help each other. If this dinoflagellate disappears from the coral, we get what's called coral bleaching. People may have heard of this before. And the coral cannot survive without these symbiotic dinoflagellates and they die. Dinoflagellates can also be parasites. They can be parasites on each other. They can be parasites on zooplankton, parasites on fish.

Here's an example of that. This is a regular dinoflagellate. This is a small parasitic dinoflagellate called amoebafibra, which has attached itself to the larger dinoflagellate. It absorbs through the cell wall. It then makes hundreds and hundreds of copies of itself, just like a virus or a bacteria infecting a human. Here's an example of what one of these looks like when it's infected. They look just like an old beehive and you can see it very clearly when you look through a microscope. Eventually they kill the host and they come out with a really large amount of cells. This is called a vermiform stage. This is an actual microscopic plate of one. And then they repeat the process. They spawn out all these different cells. So they can also be straight parasites. How do dinoflagellates reproduce? The normal way is through simple mitosis.

We have a vegetative cell. This vegetative cell doubles all of its cellular machinery. It doubles its chloroplast, its mitochondria. It makes two copies of its DNA. And then it simply just splits into what we call two daughter cells. This is an asexual process. These are exact genetic clones of each other and they just keep on going this way. However, when times get tough, if there is poor growth conditions where they don't think they can survive, or there's heavy predation, or there's these parasites starting to attack them, they go through sexual reproduction in what we call cyst formation. So in this case, its vegetative cell actually produces two gametes. This is equivalent to a sperm and an egg in a higher animal. Same thing. These gametes from different organisms have to find each other. They fuse together. They produce what we would call a fertilized egg or a zygote, and then it goes through kind of a change and it creates what's called a resting cyst. And you can think about this – it's a seed. Here's another example of that same process.

These seeds that they produce – these resting cysts – fall out of the water column and they go down into the mud, and the sand, and whatever on the bottom of the ocean. When conditions are favorable again, they hatch and they repeat the process. The dinoflagellate comes out and it starts its lifecycle again. Here's a great micrograph of that happening. This is a dinoflagellate hatching out of a cyst – becoming the swimming organism and leaving the old cyst shell behind. This is a way for the population to survive for long periods of time. They can be dormant in the sediments for years upon years. It also increases their genetic variability. They're actually changing up their genome. They're going with other organisms and swapping genetic material. A lot of algae do this, just not the dinoflagellates.

And these cysts they produce can persist for decades in the mud. They have found cysts that are still viable 100 years old. Amazing ability to survive. Again, I said phytoplankton they're single cells, no brain, no nervous system. And yet, they can sense their environment a lot like we can. They demonstrate what we call phototaxis. They can sense light with eyespots or what we call ocelloids. Here's a shot of one of these here. This is a dinoflagellate cell and it has this structure called an ocelloid. What they do is they modify some of their organelles to create a rudimentary lens and a retina below it for increased light absorption. They can also demonstrate what we call gravitaxis. They can sense up and down, and I will show you an example of this a little bit later. They can also demonstrate chemotaxis.

They have a sense of smell if you want to put it in human terms. And to show that, this is a microscope shot. This is a pipette tip that had fish oil in it. It was put into a container that was filled with dinoflagellates that are predatory on fish – they actually attack fish and go after their flesh. As soon as this fish oil got in there, the dinoflagellates immediately went to it. They thought it was something they could attack. They knew v they could smell – that that fish oil was there. Dinoflagellates also have circadian rhythms. They can sense time, and I'll show you an example of that in a few slides, as well. Who knows what this is? Bioluminescence. Very good. This is light production. Dinoflagellates are really good at making light. So if you've been down to the beach at nighttime or during the summertime, this is a very common thing. And when you see this kind of bioluminescence where the water looks really milky – it's just not a spot of light here and there – it's almost always dinoflagellates.

There's a lot of things in the ocean that can bioluminesce, but they're bigger and they make just flashes once in a while here and there. When you see this, that's a big bloom of dinoflagellates that are bioluminescing. These are a lot of the causative dinoflagellates that can bioluminesce. Not all of them can, but a lot them do. I've studied a lot of these. This one is pretty important here. This is pyrodinium. This exists in the Indian River Lagoon. So if you've been out there in the summertime, out in a kayak at nighttime and you've seen glowing water, this is what's in the water. It's also toxic. I'll get to that later. So you probably ask yourself, "Why do they produce light?" Again, I said there's these predators that are out there. This is a zooplankton called a copepod.

It's like a lobster, shrimp-like creature. They try to eat dinoflagellates. It's got these big arms. They grasp out. They try to get them. You can see this little mockup. There comes the predator after the little dinoflagellate. Well, this dinoflagellate is bioluminescent. When this copepod tries to grab it, the cell flashes. When you touch them, it's that mechanical disturbance that makes the flash. These can sense light too. And that light flash startles them. They let go and they swim away. The thing survives. There's also what we call the burglar alarm defense. When this flash occurs when a copepod is trying to eat a dinoflagellate, that flash attracts much bigger fish. They're attracted to light in the ocean and they may eat the thing that's trying to eat the dinoflagellate. So they have two ways of getting rid of their predators.

So how do they produce light? This is a micrograph of a bioluminescent dinoflagellate I did back in 2000. It's very interesting. I'll have to walk you through it. There's three panels here. They represent the daytime, the transition between day and night, and full nighttime. This top panel – this red glow you see in the cell – is where the chloroplasts are. That's the photosynthetic machinery. When you hit cells with a certain color of light, they actually flash red light. It's called fluorescence. So we can image where the chloroplasts are. This is just the light micrograph – what the cell looks like in the light of all these cells that are shown here. This is the bioluminescence. We can chemically stimulate the bioluminescence. We can just make it put out its light. So during the daytime, you see the chloroplasts – the photosynthetic machinery – are spread out all over the cell. It makes sense. They've got to capture light. They want to increase that surface area.

They want the chloroplasts spread out everywhere. The bioluminescence, however, is very dim and it's only in the dead center of the cell around the nucleus. It makes sense. They don't create bioluminescence during the day. You can't see a flash if the light is bright. It does them no energetic benefit to do it. In the transition when it just turns nighttime, you can see the organism is pulling back all its' chloroplasts. They're streaming back to the center of cell. They do this through microtubules, and microfilaments, and their cytoplasm and they stream them all back. They know when to move them. The bioluminescent organelles called scintillons – they're little organelles that make a chemical reaction to produce light – they start to increase in number and spread out from the center of the cell. When we fully get into nighttime, all the chloroplasts are centered around the nuclear area of the cell, and all the scintillons, or the light producing cells, are now spread out like the chloroplasts were during the day. So they're ready to go. They're ready to make a really bright flash.

It makes sense why they have to do this. If they had these chloroplasts out at the same time during the nighttime, their own pigments would absorb their flash. They'd lose that light. So they have learned how to control this. And their circadian rhythmicity I told you about, this was how we actually first demonstrated that they could sense time, that they had an internal clock. If you put these things in the dark – you never give them a key for daytime – and measure the amount of bioluminescence and what this looks like day after day, they will keep on doing this without any light signal at all. Right when it would have been light, they know. So they do sense time. I'll show you another example of that a little bit later. Dinoflagellates are kings at making toxins. A lot of algaes do, but the dinoflagellates make an array of toxins. Why do they do this? The first reason is what we call allelopathy. This is essentially chemical warfare on their competitors. They produce chemicals that – this is one as an example of this.

This is a dinoflagellate that was put in with another dinoflagellate that makes a chemical. It's allelopathic to it. This dinoflagellate, once it's exposed to this chemical, it starts to swell. It swells, it swells, it swells, it bursts and it dies. It's one way of getting rid of your competition. You poison them. Another reason why they do it is for predator defense. Again, like bioluminescence, they're trying to stop things from eating them. A lot of these toxins they produce when these copepods eat them, it suppresses their feeding response. They just don't want to eat. They feel sick. It also stops their reproduction. It totally stops their reproduction. So it essentially is poisoning them so they're stopping their predators from growing and increasing in number.

It also can decrease their motility, so that when they eat these things, they become slow and lethargic and now other things can eat them. So they've got their number. They can get rid of them. This toxin production is obviously a problem for us. That's why we have what are called harmful algal blooms. We used to call them red tides because some of the early ones that were identified were very red. This is what the water looked like. You'd look out there and go, "Oh, my God, what is going on?" But not all of them are red. You can have green harmful algal blooms. You can have brown ones. These two shots are actually from the Indian River Lagoon. So this is a Microcystis bloom that occurred, I think, last year. This is the brown tide that I think is currently occurring up in the northern part of the Indian River Lagoon. These can be devastating to local wildlife and local plants.

The reason is the host of toxins that come with many of these organisms, and these hurt us as much as they hurt other animals. There are dinoflagellates that give you paralytic shellfish poisoning. Pyrodinium, one of the dinoflagellates that's common out in the IRL, actually does this. I think that's why there's now a constant ban on puffer – you can't harvest puffer fish anymore. There's also diuretic shellfish poisoning. There's neurotoxic shellfish poisoning. There's amnesic shellfish poisoning. This actually comes from a diatom. All these different poisonings, what it sounds like is what they do to you. There's also ciguatera fish poisoning from dinoflagellates. This is pretty common down here in the tropics. We also have Microcystis that I talked about. This occurs in the Indian River Lagoon, Lake Okeechobee, a lot of fresh water bodies. It's a big problem in Lake Erie.

I don't know if you were watching the news – I think it was last summer or the summer before – the whole city of Toledo – millions of people – could not drink their water because a massive bloom of this stuff got into their drinking water supply. And it's nasty. And the lake is just covered with it. It happens here to. It produces a hepatotoxin and this is a liver poison. Very bad for us. So they don't have to be poisonous. There are some diatoms – I don't know how clearly you can see this, but there are a lot of little serrated edges on the spine that grows out of it. When these get into fish gills, they cut the gills and the fish produces mucus and eventually it will die, or basically suffocate. So it's a mechanical destruction of the fish. This causes massive fish kills out in the Pacific Northwest. We also have brown tides. We have these here. They occur in Texas.

They've occurred in Rhode Island. The organism is not necessarily toxic, but there's so much of it and it absorbs all the light coming in when it's at the surface that nothing below it can grow. So any of the seaweeds, any of the algae that's on the bottom – the seagrass here – it dies for lack of light. But these brown tides also produce a mucus-causing compound, which necessarily doesn't kill shellfish, but it causes them not to feed right and they starve to death. So it can be devastating to oyster fisheries and other things. Also, anoxic water is produced by these. You can imagine when you have a ton of this stuff, like here, in the water, sooner or later it dies, and it rots, and it drops to the bottom. When that stuff is rotting, it eats up all the oxygen in the water so it becomes anoxic. And any organism that can't get out of that water fast enough is going to suffocate and die. That's another common thing. We have massive dead zones in a lot of the ocean due to some of this.

Now that I've shown you all these adaptations, we're going to go through a few examples of how these are used to thrive and to compete. How do they use them? That's what we call form and function questions. I'm going to remind you of this vertical ocean again. For phytoplankton, they really need two major things for growth. They need light and nutrients. If we go back to this simple diagram with depth, light decreases with depth, nutrients are generally low at the surface and they increase when you go down in the water. Usually for many phytoplankton, there's a sweet spot where there's just enough light and just enough nutrients, and that's where they're going to grow best. That's their little niche and they've got to get to that sweet spot. How do they do that? How can phytoplankton change their vertical position? Well, you already know. They can swim to where they have to go.

I said before that diatoms aren't motile but they change their buoyancy. And they can use this to find an area in the water column, or essentially float to an area in the water column where they may grow better. And they can maintain themselves at a particular depth for very long times. They just don't sink out of the water column. I'm going to show you an example of this for dinoflagellates. This is work we did in 2010. I'll have to walk you through this graph but this is depth going down. So this is depth in meters in the water column. It's about 45 or 50 feet. And this is the year day on the x-axis here. So this represents about 14 days of continuous data. What this green trace is, is the chlorophyll fluorescence that we measure in the water column. It indicates where the population of phytoplankton are in the water.

This water here, where this thing is going up and down, was almost entirely dominated by this one species of dinoflagellate called Akashiwo. You can see every day it's going up down, up down, up down. If we average this over this entire 14-day time period, where the population is versus time of day for a single day, this would be the dark periods, this would be the light periods, this would be noon. Zero and 24 are midnight. This is the kind of curve we see. We see that the population is down at depth at night. It comes up, sits at the surface for a while, and then goes back down. This entire population moves synchronously with what we call diurnal vertical migration. They're demonstrating a whole bunch of these things I've already described. So they're doing circadian rhythm here.

Look at where they are. They start their journey up to the surface way before the sun comes up. So they know this is a long journey. They've got to go. It's time. So they are already set. They know what time it is. They have an internal clock. But they're also showing gravitaxis. They know which way to go. There's no light to tell them where up is. They know which way is up and they swim that way. They're also doing phototaxis. When they get into the light, they go to a certain light level. Too much light can be damaging for a phytoplankton. They can have an optimal light level. So they can actually go to a specific place and kind of stop there. They're also doing chemotaxis. What was happening when we were out during this bloom is that all the nutrients were down here. They were deep in the water column. So what these were doing was going down at nighttime, taking up the nutrients they needed, and then going up during the day to get high light to grow and photosynthesize.

And they would stop right about where the nutrients were high enough they could uptake it. So they were doing chemotaxis. They knew when they hit the nutrients they needed. Just for reference, this little journey this little tiny microscopic organism does is about 200,000 body lengths per day. If we scale that to us, that's like us swimming 400 miles per day every day. It's an impressive thing for this little guy to do. Because these organisms move synchronously, they can control their position, we get what are called phytoplankton thin layers. The whole population can be in one small area of the water column that can be that sweet spot where they need to grow. Here's an example of that also from Monterey Bay. This is the chlorophyll or this represents where the phytoplankton are – their biomass – so if it's high there's a lot of them. This is the density in the water column. You can see that most of the population is sitting at this little tiny area around ten meters and the whole population is in an area about that big.

You've got to ask yourself, "What ecological benefit is there to doing this?" forming these thin layers? And these are really common. They occur everywhere. Why form thin layers? Well, I told you the first one. It's a resource gradient exploitation. They're trying to enhance their growth by getting into that sweet spot of light and nutrients for whatever they need. But also, I told you about the heterotrophic organisms. So if the photosynthetic organisms are making a thin layer, the ones that eat them have to go there and find them. So they'll do it too, and you'll get a thin layer on top of a thin layer of a different species that's trying to go after them. They also do it for competition and defense. They create these allelopathic substances and toxins. If you're spread out through the big ocean and you're a single cell putting out this toxin, it's not going to be very effective. But if you can concentrate yourself, you can make a really high concentration of that substance or the toxin, it's going to be a lot more effective.

It's the same thing with bioluminescence and the shading effect. If you get a whole bunch of algae that are sitting at one depth, just like the shading that kills seagrass in the Indian River Lagoon, they're absorbing all the light that hits that layer. All their competitors below them that are going to use their nutrients, they can't grow. They're shading them out from growing. Lastly, sexual reproduction. They form gametes. They have sperm and eggs, so to speak. Again, if they're spread out through the entire ocean, these little tiny microscopic organisms aren't going to find each other very easily. But if they're in close proximity in one of these little thin layers, they can find each other relatively easily. So it's a big part of their ecology for doing this. The last thing I'm going to talk about tonight is a question that has also pondered plankton ecologists for a long time. And that is, why do we have such amazing diversity in the shapes of these diatom colonies? These are all diatoms and these are all colonies.

Look at these. You have these spirals. You have these amazing chains that can be flat. You can have these ball-like structures, these big needle-like colonies. Why do they do this? There has to be a reason. Nature always has a purpose. We think we know one of the reasons why. There's been a lot of hypothesis. But to get to the reason why, I have to detour through this project. Our lab created what's called a holocam. This is an underwater holographic video microscope. It images undisturbed volumes of the water. So it's not like we have to take a sample, and put it on a slide, and look at it under a microscope. It looks at an open area in the water and it images all the phytoplankton that are in there, undisturbed, so we can look at them in nature. It has a magnification that can see over the whole range of phytoplankton sizes. Just to reiterate what Dennis said, if you want to see more of this kind of cool instrumentation, Mike Twardowsky, who I work with a lot is going to give next week's lecture on a lot of this stuff. So what is a hologram? Very simply, if you have coherent light and it hits a particle, it creates a defraction pattern.

It's the scattering of the light when it hits the particle, and it looks like this. If we represent this form mathematically, we get a shape that looks like this. The envelope of this encodes the size and shape of all the particles in that hologram. All these high frequency oscillations encodes its location in 3D space. So we can get all this information from a hologram. We use what's called inline digital holography. What it is, we shine a laser into an open sample volume of seawater. And on the backside of that, it creates this scattering defraction pattern. It's very simple. And we record these with a camera. I could create a holography system with this laser pointer and my cellphone camera. It's that simple. If we put a microscope objective in front of our camera, we now have a digital holographic microscope. It magnifies the hologram. The advantage here of a holographic microscope is it images volumes that are two to three orders of magnitude greater than a standard light microscope. A standard light microscope is great but it only can see a very narrow focal plane. When you use a hologram, you can see everything at once through a large volume.

The trick in holography – creating the system is easy. The trick is in the processing. This is what's called holographic reconstruction. Once we put our system out and we collect our holograms, we have to do this mathematical reconstruction. It's called image sectioning. It creates in focus images of all the particles that were in this original volume that we created this hologram from. I will not go through the math. You don't want to know. This is us flying through the image planes of a hologram. This is a dinoflagellate culture. They're kind of small. You can see ones that are out of focus are coming in focus. We're moving in 3D space and seeing all these particles that are in this big culture all at once. Single hologram – after we reconstruct it, we can see all of these and where they are in free space.

It's a really impressive technology for understanding plankton in the ocean. So we deployed this system out in Eastsound, Washington in 2013, and actually also in 2015 in September. And we looked specifically at one of these phytoplankton thin layers, where there's a big aggregation of phytoplankton at a depth. So we see it here. Again, this is chlorophyll here and this is the density of the water here. And you can see this big population or this large amount of chlorophyll sitting right around two and a half, three meters depth. And then it's kind of the same all through the water column. We're going to look at two depths with the holography system. We're not going to look at a reconstructed. We're going to look at the raw video feed from this system. First, we're going to look down here where it's all kind of the same. This is the raw video feed from the holography system. This is seven millimeters by seven millimeters so it's a pretty big volume of water when you're looking at microscopic organisms. You can see there's a lot of cell fragments going by.

A lot of these big things are diatom chains. A lot of what we call detritus in here. There are aggregates of dead material and a lot of little specks of possibly re-suspended sediment from the bottom. But let's see what's in this thin layer. This is what's there. You can see there is a massive amount of this big, linear, colonial diatom chain. And does anyone notice anything unusual about this as it goes by the screen? Remember this is looking at it in free space. These are just flowing by a camera. They're oriented. They're all going the same way, and they're actually all oriented horizontally. The camera was slightly tilted when we took the picture. So all of these diatom chains that are in here are all oriented horizontally with respect to the downwelling light field. It was dominated by this one species here.

It's a chain-forming diatom called Ditylum. How do they orient? And if we look at the two states of the ocean – we can have turbulence if you have a breaking wave or the surface of the ocean. It's very turbulent when the wind is blowing. And if this is the water just spinning around and mixing everything, everything in the water is going to be randomly oriented. It's just being mixed up like a blender. However, most of the time the ocean is not in this state. It's in a current shear state. The currents of the ocean move horizontally and they move at different velocities as you go up and down through the water column. This creates a velocity gradient than what we call current shear. And when these organisms that have a big aspect ratio – they're big, long, thin things – they actually line up parallel to the current streamlines. And that's exactly what we were seeing.

We went out there and measured the shear and they were perfectly right on a shear level. So the shear was making them all line up. Why do we care about orientation? So now I'm finally getting back to trying to answer the original question I started with. If we look at the amount of light a phytoplanktor could absorb – so the light is coming down. They can be horizontal like all the ones we saw, or they could be anywhere from tilted, tilted all the way to vertical like this. If you look at the amount of light or photons they can absorb versus the angle from horizontal – so here they're horizontally, here they're vertical – it goes down a lot. If you compare oriented cells to randomly oriented cells, they can increase their light capture when they're oriented by 40 percent. That is a huge number. They can grow a lot better. We have a perfect example of this for plants on land. It's called phototropism. Everyone who has grown a plant has seen this.

You put them near a north-facing window, what do they do? They bend over to the light. What are they trying to do? They're trying to increase their light capture. It's important. They're plants. They need light to survive. They will go to the light. Oceanic phytoplankton don't have the benefit of soil and stem. They can't move. So why are they doing this? It's form and function. They have evolved to actually just do phototropism using what they have. They've got the motion of the ocean and it's letting them do it, which is fascinating. It may be why we have all these shapes. It's how they interive biophysics, essentially. Our lab is incredibly interested in this. We do a lot of it. Among other things, we just got back from the National Oceans Sciences meeting where we did a few presentations on this. Both of these were done by post docs in our lab – Adi Nayak and Malcolm McFarland – we recently published a Sea Technology article on all the kind of instrumentation you need to look at particles like this in the ocean undisturbed.

Mike's going to talk about this week if you're interested. I've just got to say, a lot of this kind of work can't be done without a great lab, and we have a great lab. Here's a picture of most of the people in our lab. This is Malcom McFarland, my post doc. This is Schuyler Nardelli. This is Nicole Skyler. This is Adi Nayak, another post doc. This is actually Fraser Dalgleish. He's another professor here. The only person that's missing on this is Mike Twardowsky but he'll be here next week. I want to leave you with this. When you look out at that great big ocean, just remember in a single drop, there is a world of survival going on there. These things have all kind of adaptations to try to beat each other, and compete, and dominate. And we need every single one of these little drops with this universe – world of competition going on, we need it. They are incredibly important.

And I will stop there..

Observing Changing Recreational Seascapes in Hawai’i

Laura Thompson: I’m very pleased to introduce Dr. Noelani Puniwai as our speaker, today, of the NCCWSC webinar. Noelani is currently serving as a post-doc in geography at the University of Hawaii in Hilo, where her interests lie in working with communities and across disciplines to progress the health of the people and aina kai, which is the Hawaiian… [silence] word for “environment.” As a native Hawaiian community member and science educator, Noelani wears many hats and tries to facilitate the communication of knowledge between scientists, local communities, and management agencies. Her family name means surrounded by, or all about, water, making water her purifier, her connector, and her kuleana, which is the Hawaiian word for “responsibility,” to conserve and protect from the tops of the mountain to the depths of the sea. She grew up on the banks of the Wailuku River and diving in the tide pools of Kapoho, where she continues to raise her three children today. I would like to welcome Noelani for her talk, titled Recreational Seascapes – Integrating Human and Mechanical Observations on Hawaii Island.

Thank you so much, Noelani. Noelani Puniwai: Thanks for having me today. I wanted to start off my presentation with just a little snap of who I am. That’s why I wanted to have the webcam showing. A lot of my presentation is going to really focus on face to face — he alo a he alo — how we relate to each other. Noelani Puniwai: There you are. Noelani: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us today as we talk about seascapes. I’ll probably start this presentation off more as a conversation. In knowing that a lot of you might not come from places with oceans, places with marine resources, it’s pretty interesting, just when I think of everything that I am talking about today, in the ways of seascapes, of landscapes, of riverscapes, of any part of the environment that you can relate with, and the people that relate to those places. Recreation is a very broad term, and every place has its own type of personal recreation, and recreation specific to that place. If you start getting lost in figuring out how does this apply to you, just start thinking of the communities that you work with and the recreation that’s available in those areas.

I’ll probably try and bring my web camera on again at the end, when I can ask questions. For now, I’ll switch to my presentation. If my audio gets hard to hear, please let me know as well. Thank you. [pause] Noelani: I titled my talk Recreational Seascapes because I’m looking at the ocean and how people relate to the ocean. Recreation is a very interesting word, because it has a lot of different importance to it, which I don’t really go into in this talk, but I think it’s a good way of understanding how people normally spend their time on place. I need to give a lot of thanks to the people that have been helping me with this information and this research. My professors Steven Gray, Chris Lepczyk, Craig Severance, and a lot of the students who have also been a part of the program. So aloha Cherie, Stephanie and Danielle from this past summer. I’m going to be sharing with you a little journey today. I spent the last few years listening. I want to learn more about the connection that people still have today with our world, with our oceans, with our environment.

Both what drives them in their interactions and what they understand about it. I think the solutions for our ability to take care of our resources, to prepare for climate change is in these people still connected to the ocean, to our resources. So I listened to the watermen, the souls who experience the true ocean. I listened to the ones that have provided their livelihood from the ocean’s generosity, such as Uncle Mitch, who is a commercial fisherman his whole life. I listened and asked questions of those who’ve spent their lives immersed with the ocean’s beauty, within its depths. Many of these fishermen come in all ages, all genders, all nationalities. It’s that relationship to the resource, however, that’s very interesting to me. From their stories, from their understanding, I try to understand how they mentally model how they describe the ocean, the resources, because through understanding their worldview, I feel that we can acknowledge and integrate their information about our resources to better manage together. Most of my work has been taking place in the Hawaiian Islands, and then particularly on the Big Island, Hawai’i and in its little bay called Hilo Bay. But before I get any further, before I start influencing your perspective, I would like each of you to take a few seconds to close your eyes and envision in yourself a seascape.

What comes to mind? Is it an imaginary one? One from a movie? Is it your favorite memory? A place you want to go? What comes to mind when I say the word “seascape,” because as you can tell, it’s a very personal image. I can’t predict what’s in your mind when I say the word “seascape,” and neither can you understand the seascapes that these people I’ve interviewed understand. Because even though I’ve only started my conversation with them, I still have so much more to learn from them each. Why does it matter what this definition of “seascape” is? How does it relate to what I’ve been studying? And then more importantly for this climate change series, how does studying the seascape relate to climate change? If you go to the word “seascape,” you’ll get lots of images such as this. Some might be cartoony. Some are pictures or paintings of the coastlines.

Depending on where you’re from, you may think of this when I talk about islands and areas of interaction between the ocean and shore. Everyone will have a different image, based on where they’re from and what they’re familiar or unfamiliar with. Seascapes tells about a particular place. They can tell us what’s valued, the location of things, what’s important to people and where they are in the world. Recently, people have used it geographically to understand, denote and manage spaces. Some people see the simplicity and the quantitative dimensions, but there’s something core at the heart of a seascape and what’s missing from these images is us. A more common representation of a living seascape is a cultural seascape. It shows us people’s interactions with the ocean along the coastline, their activities, their priorities. I’m one of a few researchers internationally looking at seascapes and understanding how the calm seascape can help us in our management efforts.

However, universally across all of our research, people are a part of the seascape. The research of seascapes is still very immature compared to that of the landscapes. Yet we in the Pacific, we here in Hawai’i, we are people of the ocean, and we understand seascapes. How it changes based on ocean conditions and cultural perspectives. What we call these are “coupled human-natural systems.” Many of you guys might be studying coupled-human natural systems. Through that, we recognize that a seascape involves the broad range of meanings that individual and social groups place on the environment. A seascape, it shares our identity. It talks about interactions that people have between and among themselves, the communities, living and non-living, in a place. You can see that seascapes is much more complex than just a painting of the ocean. Sometimes when we hear a word for so long, such as the word “seascape,” you forget the context that the word can be used in is dependent on the discipline that you’re in. I really like the writing of Anita Maurstad, who writes about Nordic oceanic communities. She states that when fishermen no longer use a seascape and perpetuate their knowledge, spacings and understanding of local conditions, that the seascape will disappear.

It will turn into a sea wilderness. The sea must be seen as a cultural space in our worldview. Otherwise we return to the past, where for centuries, the biological resources of the sea seemed endless. A well-respected component in Hawai’i, she said that culture anchors a people to a space based reality. So the culture is what connects you to a space based reality, in place and time. We cannot talk about places…we cannot talk about environments, what they’re like now and how they might be in the future without knowing the culture of that place and realizing that that is an interconnection. Therefore, we see that natural resource management, ocean research management, all of these are really managing multiple uses and meanings of the ocean. With major funding from the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center and a fellowship through the Hawai’i Mellon Fellows and the Kohala Center, I’ve been trying to understand how using the perspectives of seascapes can help elevate our understanding of the effects of climate change on local communities.

The Pacific Islands Climate Science Center and many of the other climate science centers want to understand the implications of climate change on people here on Hawai’i and particularly native Hawai’ians. My approach to this is to understand what resources and places are most vulnerable, what processes may be affected and how we can prepare our communities and increase our resilience. I’ve been working on this by understanding our climate patterns have been like and how these are known processes. I’ll show you some of these examples with two projects that I’ve currently wrapped up. Recently published in “Human Ecology” is the communication of ocean current knowledge and how we’ve learned about it through human observations.

“Ike i ke au nui ke au iki” is a Hawai’ian saying that I’ve been using in my research. This saying itself says, “Look at the big currents, look at the little currents.” It was said in a saying as someone came on a journey being judged. They ask to be looking, look at the big picture. Look at the little picture. It ends with the saying, “He alo a he alo,” “face to face.” Look at everything around you face to face. I like this saying because it’s very deep. It has a simple literal translation and it has so much implications within it if you start thinking of how do you look at a situation? You have to really look at it through multiple perspectives, deep and little.

Monitoring and understanding our ocean and how it changes requires fully knowing the relationship between the physical and the cultural dynamics. I’ll explain more what I mean by these. The social cultural seascapes, the physical and the cultural, they’re changed together. I simplify them by studying them on two main axes. I feel that only by integrating these can we really understand the different ways in which we can understand and describe seascapes. We can think of the physical seascapes, the variables that scientists use to characterize environments. We can start with simple features such as temperature or substrate, and proceed to more complex understandings, integrating many variables together. We use mechanical sensors such as used in the marine environment to monitor wave regimes, stream flow, rainfall, all these different systems that managers use to predict the effects and implications of climate change. On the opposite side, we can look at the cultural seascapes and how I use human observation systems to understand the cultural seascape. Because objective data alone will not predict society’s response to a changing climate.

If we want to understand how climate change is going to affect us in the future, we need to understand the cultural implications of change. This cultural seascape… [pause] …incorporates the use of…when using the human observation system, we get to see what’s shared by recreationists, fishers, ocean watermen, to see how they internalize climate and environmental changes important to their interactions with the resource. So what did I find out? I interviewed people of all ages and associations that were recommended as experts in the ocean. These experts included fishermen, paddlers, life guarders, surfers, sailors. Out of those 30 people I interviewed, I characterize their ability to communicate their knowledge. This analysis isn’t really looking at what they shared. It’s talking about how they shared and their ability to share this knowledge.

The first quote you can see shows a limited ability to communicate ocean knowledge. “I notice when the river is really strong when the high tides coming out,” yet maybe they weren’t able to articulate much more than that. Going up the scale, there are some people who say, “You know, I really don’t know it that much, but I do know how some things work around here.” They might be able to drive or to talk about it. Yet we also had people that were very detailed for their information, either spatially or quantitatively, such as this life guard. He was able to quantify his information of how the currents move in a particular location. What kind of questions were they trying to answer? A basic question I had is “What is the scale of the human observing system?” What are these things, these variables that they understand? Then how does it compare to the physical system, the information that we get from these mechanical devices? What we see is.

..this slide’s got a lot of information, so let me walk you through it. On the left side here, we have a picture of Honoli’i Bay. Right here is a river coming out and the ocean coming in from this side. Each different color shows a different surfer’s interpretation on their maps of how the currents work in a place. On the right side, I’ve kind of summarized all the information that ocean people talked about in regards to Hilo and Honoli’i Bay. They talk about the scale of map that they chose to share their information on and the number of maps that were shared at that scale. So the surfers, the sailors, watermen, all of the people that are interviewed were given maps to draw on, and they were interviewed. It was all audio transcribed. As you can see that the maps they chose from, they had a scale of just five different maps to choose from, yet people in each discipline, no matter if they were a surfer or a fisher or a paddler, they all chose maps at the 1 to 5,000 scale, which is the same scale as that shown on the left here, to talk about their information about the ocean.

That in itself is really interesting, because it hasn’t been documented before, what is the scale that humans operate on the seascape with? Of course, there’s more work to be done about this, but this 1 to 5,000 scale, it seems really important. It’s not the smallest scale that they were given. They were also given a scale of 1 to 2,500, yet very little people wrote or described the ocean on that scale. Another way of presenting that same map is on the left here. You see everybody’s individual interview, because each person was given a blank map on which to draw on. Then we geo database and digitized all their information. We compiled it with their interviews and all their demographic information. What you see here is that even though we can integrate all their information into one map, what we’re doing is losing those individual stories that we see on the left. Because those individual stories are showing different variables and different things that are important. Different functions of the ocean for each person.

To really get a compiled map on the right, it probably isn’t very feasible to just add up everybody’s layers together. Another way to show this, on the bottom right you see what Hilo Bay looks like. Where did my little pointer go? Down here is Hilo Bay, this light black line along the coastline. We did the same thing with this one. On the left if you look at them, you kind of think that mostly people are talking about the same currents in the same places. That’s the stories that come out. However, when you integrate them all together, that’s not really applicable to showing how their information is able to be seen. To talk about it in one other way, we created a graph to show the spatial and temporal scales in which they shared their information, and the spatial and temporal scales that are available from mechanical devices. In gray, you see the scale that the high frequency radar and the different models that create output by .

In the blue squares, you see the outputs of scales that the ocean expert watermen talked about in their interviews with us. What you see is, is there not really an overlap with the majority of the fishermen and the surfers and the canoe paddlers in the water with information that’s available from the mechanical devices. We see that images needed by most of the watermen on the ocean is not provided by the scientific instruments. However, the instruments, the information may be available on these people on the land. We know that knowledge exists. It’s just in different formats. What we need are people with different skills to bridge these divides. We need researchers that can talk to the watermen, the people on the ocean, who understand the ocean… [silence] …and who live in them. In the second project I did, I tried to understand what are those important variables and how can they be used? How can we really integrate the information from these mechanical devices with the human systems? In the slide before, I showed you how machines could be a little gap between the connection of the two.

So, instead, I tried to find an act, a process, that would make it a little bit more easier to integrate these two systems together. I came up with the idea of surfing, because surfing, as we know, surfers all have to learn their ocean to be able to participate and act. If they don’t understand the system that they’re participating in, then they won’t be able to surf. We also know that surfers are amazing in their ways to follow the oceanographic and meteorologic data. They are scientists. They look at the wave flow. They look at the wave period. They understand the wind flow. They use all of those to predict in their minds how the surf is going to be like on that day. So what is surf? Surf quality — that’s how we kind of define the word “surf” — is defined as not just the dynamics of a breaking wave, but the result of waves interacting with conditions on the shoreline, physically and socially, to create surf.

The work done in Australia, New Zealand and California all show the same thing, that surf quality is just as important, the social conditions of a site, not just interactions of the wave on the shoreline. This is key to understanding the different measures of surfing and how people rank surfing. To understand that it’s just as much on how they perceive it. It’s their value judgment. To think about it in another way, you can think that the social conditions of the site is, “Is it raining today?” Maybe, “Is it drizzling?” How old are you? If you’re 12 years old and you’re out there with your five best friends, does it really matter how big those waves are? Not really. You’re there with your best friends.

The waves are epic. What if you go after work one day, and the waves, again, are one to two feet. They’re nothing. But you had a bad day in the office. And all you need is some time on the ocean. All of those things interact with your expectations of what is good surf. Defining surf, therefore, is not just a physical water quality and wave conditions, but it’s also the social conditions of that site. The overlying question is how do surfers and scientists understand the trends in surf quality? If we’re trying to understand how is climate change going to affect a place, how is it, based on those conditions, let’s try and see what the local people also think about those conditions. I surveyed surfers at Honoli’i and asked them, “What is good surf? How was surf in the past? And what are their predictions for surf in the future?” based on different scenarios that I presented them with. I compared their information to scientific data that has monitored the coastlines. This information includes graphs of climate and ocean conditions which were created and presented to them.

We also included climate predictions, so how is the climate expected to change in these areas? Then socially, we also tried to understand how much people and what types of people have been going to the ocean over time. We administered a survey with about 104 questions to over 100 surfers in the winter of December and February of 2014. It was an anonymous survey, and we approached all willing surfers above age 18. After about 75 and 80 interviews, we kind of reached a peak in which of the adult surfers on site had been surveyed. The survey took about 20 minutes in length, and it was really fun to engage with the surfers. They really liked taking the survey, although it was really long. But more than that, they liked to engage in the ideas that we were asking them, which is a good reason to include surfers in your study in the future.

What makes good surf? That was an easy question for surfers to understand. As you can see in this left graph, we asked them what direction do they love the swell to come from at this particular surf break in Honoli’i. A majority of the surfers said they loved surf that comes from the northeast direction. About 15 percent of people also like surf that came from north-northeast and east-northeast. It was easy to define as a group what conditions make good surf. Same thing on the right. The graph on the right shows you wind direction. I asked them the question if they like surf offshore, onshore and how strong do they like the wind? Almost everyone liked the graph on the top left. They love offshore wind at zero to five miles an hour. That was a resounding…almost half of them, 88 percent of all the surveyors.

Similarly, if you asked them how the surf is like when it comes from a particular direction, so getting a little bit more detailed information, you can see that on the left here, this A direction, surf that comes from the northwest direction, is pretty flat. They were asked to rate the conditions of surf on a scale of one to ten, from flat to epic, using terms that they can understand. However, if you look at surf that comes from C, from the northeast direction, just as we asked in the previous question, you can see that the surfers really like the surf that came from this direction. However, in general, surfers did not observe any trends in the data. They’re easily able to define perfect surf conditions, yet they weren’t able to define any patterns in the surf conditions over time at a single place. All of the answers came back normally distributed. What does the scientific data look like? What we find from mechanical observations are that most of the qualities that define surf quality are decreasing. Here’s an example of stream flow and rainfall at that same river here in Honoli’i that comes and helps create the surf break.

These are questions that the surfers said were very important in making good surf on site, yet we can see that over the past 30 years, we’ve had a significant decline in both stream flow and rainfall at this site. Similarly, if we look at the wind conditions, mean annual wind speed and the mean annual significant wave height, we can see that these have also both been decreasing over the last 30 years. Of course, we all know that wave height has a significant influence on surf conditions. For the last part, one of the other variables that we graphed was the swell direction. What direction have the swells been coming in? It looks like over the past few years that most of the swell direction is coming from the straight east and not from the northeast. We can think about how this is going to change the conditions in the future.

One of the last conditions which most surfers didn’t think that sea level rise had an influence in the place such as a stream bed, but we can tell them that the sea level has risen over the last 100 years in Hilo Bay, and it’s expected to rise at a much faster rate in the future. What did we find from this? How do surfers and scientists understand trends in surf quality? Well when we asked the surfers what was surf like in the past, both physically and socially. First, physically. How did they think surf was in the past? They think it was great. There’s always good times. Always crappy times. That was pretty easy. It was pretty redundant. If we ask them over 5 years, 10 years or 20 years, how has the surf changed, none of the surfers were able to see a trend in surf quality at the site. However, I think more than a shift in baseline, I think this has to do with the fact that most of the surfers have seen the social conditions at the site change just as much.

When they started off surfing, they had a different group of friends. They had a different group of people that they engaged with on the site. The conditions of the site were different. Thirty years ago at Honoli’i, there was a lot of sugar cane bagasse. The water quality wasn’t very strong. The site conditions, it was a jungle to get down to the surf break. Nowadays, it’s more of a park. A peaceful place. A lot of family members. A lot more female surfers in the water. The surfers talked about these changing social and physical changes in the place. They say that nothing’s really good or bad. It just changes, and that’s what they expect at that site. Then when we gave them forecasts of the future, like in the future, we expect in Hilo to have more sunny days, which is very different from our past climate. The surfers also see the information, the social conditions in those forecasts. They think, “Well, you know, sunny days usually means flat conditions.

..it means that I’ll probably want to go to the beach more. Maybe I’ll take my kids or my grandkids.” So it’ll be a plus for some variables and a negative for other variables. It wasn’t feasible for any of the surfers to separate the physical and the social variables in their predictions of how surf, climate change might be affected. Then the scientific data seems a lot more straightforward. All the conditions that create good surf have been decreasing over the last 30 years. It isn’t just a recent trend. It’s been going on for a while. When we talk about what kind of changes we can predict in the future, a forecast, again, we see that the forecasted conditions for this site are less wind, less frequent rainfall, a little bit more squalls, but once in a while we’re supposed to have more storms.

Storms bring better surf conditions. That’s kind of why the surfers were a little confused. Socially we see that the amount of surfers at Honoli’i have been going up two times, yet there has been different types of dynamics with those increases. So we see more paddle boarders, we see more boogie boarders, we see a lot of younger kids. So it means that the social conditions on site have been changing and adjusting along with the physical conditions. But it’s not something we can easily separate from each other. In summary, we can say that the spatial scales and ocean conditions important to surfers can be modeled perhaps by some of the mechanical devices that scientists have. Yet to understand them, we need to understand the social side of it.

We also found out that we were able to map the spatial scales that were important to people. We could tell that one to 5,000 map scale, which is a pretty good understanding of the coastline… If we want to go and do further surveys in the future — such as I’ll be doing this coming month — we know what map scales are really important to the surfers, watermen, fishers, sailors, and are able to try and help them explain and communicate their information to us on a scale that’s easy for them to understand. We were also able to witness the changes that they’ve seen over time. When you interview people in a place, you’re looking at the same seascape. You’re looking at those conditions and you’re mapping them with them.

Understanding the variables that are important to people is the only way that we can understand how climate change will influence their actions into the future. We can’t predict what their actions are going to be like based on quantitative data alone. We need to understand the social conditions that they interact with. The integration of both human and mechanical observations ensure that multiple systems of knowledge are included and valued, but understanding how they have been integrating this information through time and how they’re expected to integrate it into the future helps us predict and prepare managers for a new reality. A quote by Doctor Aluli Meyer, “The experience of the world is different from how you experience the world, yet both our interpretations matter.” I think sometimes we get stuck in the idea that the data has no value to it, outside of the quantitative numbers.

Yet it does. The way people analyze that, integrate it and internalize it, is different for each person. Just as in the beginning, I talked about what is your seascape? My inability to understand what your seascape in your mind…creates a barrier to our connection. It’s only through relationships and face-to-face, working in our communities, working with the different social conditions that are around us, we’ll be able to bridge that barrier and start communicating in a language that both of us understand. The surfers work on the ocean. They observe different variables on the ocean than the fisherman does. Even though I lump them all as watermen, they each define different variables that they understand on the ocean. The scale of the beta that we create for them and then ask them for input on, maybe at such different scales that it’s not applicable for their information.

The mechanical data that we have answers questions about their characterizing of the dynamics. It’s all relevant to a question, all the answers, but the human observing system. They only understand things that are relevant to their activity. They understand what processes need to be included in a certain place. They’re not trying to understand a question, they’re trying to understand things relative to the activity that they’re doing on the water. So both of these systems have different processes and are practical for different reasons. Understanding that will help us create resilient communities. By recognizing that everybody has a different world view and that together, we need to understand how people relate to places to therefore understand how to manage them. That is how, I believe, we can create resilient communities. As I wrap up my presentation, I ask each of you, how do you bond? How do you relate to your place? How do the communities that live in your place, biological, plants, the elements, the people on the landscape, on the seascape, how do they relate to the aina? Only by understanding those relationships can we support their resilience.

I believe that to address climate change, we need to see a spiritual and cultural transformation. When I started on my path research over 20 years ago, I was like many environmentalists. I’m a child of the ’70s. I had the book, “How do you save nature” and I thought that understanding science, I would be able to save the world. Only through realizing that to truly have an impact in our work, we need to practice and preach aloha aina. We need to understand how people are connected to a place and we need to understand the relationship that they have to that place. We need to love the places we are from. Only by loving something can you truly try to work to create it, to capture it, to love it, to make it succeed. You have to nurture these places and these places include the people that live upon them as well.

It’s not just the conditions, the processes of the environment. That transformation entails moving beyond process and into our own awareness of how we relate on the landscape to practice, relating to these seascapes, to these environments, can we awaken ourselves and make it accessible and understand what each place means so that it can be resilient. With that, I’ll take questions from everyone. Again, my name is Noelani Puniwai and I gave my email. I’m always available for questions and any other kind of information that people might have. I leave you with this picture of my children because as I raise my children, I want them to navigate their future. I want them to understand and be pili, be connected to the future of their ocean.

Understand what kind of processes and how they’ll be able to understand it. I’ll take questions at that. Ashley Fortune Isham: Excellent. Thank you very much. As Noelani says, we’ll be opening the conference to questions now. Yes, Hawaii is an island isolated from a lot of what goes on in other places. Does the isolation affect the political perspective of the surfers and residents? Noelani: Interestingly, other people who study surfers…I recently attended a conference on tourism and recreational values. People who study surfers in Maryland, in California, in the Philippines and Thailand, they all see things very similarly. All of our demographics of people. The way they relate to the ocean, seems to have a very similar effect across. I don’t think our isolation really affects us. I think surfers themselves are unique but they’re not unique to Hawaii alone. As far as the residents go. I think the residents of Hawai’i are much more multi-cultural than you think of. I think our demographics have been changing such that less than half of the people who live in Hawai’i currently, their grandparents lived here.

We are becoming a much more global community. However, what drives a lot of my research is understanding how people’s relationships with the ocean changes through time. It gets me really sad to understand that some people might be losing their relationship to the ocean because that is what has made us unique as a people here in Hawai’i. Thanks for the question, Ashley. Ashley: That came from Kay. I’m just wondering, something that I’ve heard recently is, as natural resource conservationists and professionals, it’s very hard in this changing environment to keep hope alive and to keep a great perspective versus having kind of more of a doomsday attitude. I’m just wondering if you have any specific recommendations or anything that you do in particular that really helps you keep up your spirit and to pass on hope to others. I heard you mention that you may have a bad day at the office and some people run down to the ocean and jump in but what are some other things that you have? Noelani: I think as I’ve started to look at climate change effects on people, a lot of it are these assumptions that we won’t be changing along with our environment. Yet, we will be.

We’ll be adapting at the same time as our environment adapts. That’s something that’s really hard for us to understand. It’s easy to project sea level rise in 100 years. It might not be easy but they’ve been doing it for a while, yet it’s really hard to predict how us as a society will be changing at the same time. I think this new generation that’s coming up underneath us, they have a very different perspective. Some of them see the dooms day but some of them see the shining lining. They see that as long as they continue their connection with the environment, as long as they’re able to feel the world moving beneath them, they’re the future. I think that’s something that we each can’t forget. We tend to forget it. The more we look at data, the more we look at numbers, the more we’re stuck looking at these processes in a very flat, single-dimensional way. If you get out into the environment, you understand how things change.

You feel that and by feeling it, you give yourself hope. I don’t think I’ve gotten very discouraged by the fact of climate change. I think I try to do everything I can to decrease my impact on the environment yet I feel like this earth will continue without us. It will always survive and it’s just how we adapt to it that will change. The only way to adapt to it is a positive attitude. By continuing our relationship with these places. As Anita Maurstad said, “If we don’t feel these places, if we don’t understand them, then they become valueless. We have no connection to them.” That, I think, is the scariest part of it. I think staying hopeful is pretty easy as long as you go out there and you see the beauty every once in a while. Whether it be snow or rain, sunshine.

Ashley: Excellent. Thank you. Then we have a question coming in over the phone from Jim. Jim: Hey Noe this is Jim. I had a question about when you went out and did your interviews. Did you get a sense from people, how they would value the impact or rate the impact of climate change versus other stresses on the environment, particularly things like over-development and crowding the beaches and that kind of thing. Noelani: Definitely. I think that idea of scale, I didn’t talk about it too much today but the scale of impacts and the scale that the surfers understand definitely vary, such as, you know the decrease in stream flow and rainfall events, compare it to a large hurricane or semi-hurricanes that we’ve come through, have a total different impact. That ability of every storm coming through, to give them big surf, negates the fact that the other times it might be pretty small. Same thing with the water quality itself. I think they understand those longer term impacts of erosion, they understand how tsunamis affect them and all those things seem to have a much larger impact on a site.

The ending of the sugar chain in Hawaii had a huge impact on surfers. That’s something we would never have been able to predict but most of the surfers talk more about the impact of those kinds of things, erosion, urban development upstream that also leads to different types of pollutants in the water. They talk about those things much more than the fact that we have less wind-flow today. Jim: Thanks. Ashley: Excellent. Thank you. I saw that Kate Q was typing as well. Noelani: I can see her question. Kate Q’s question is, “How do you assess the connection to the place?” There’s a couple of different variables that we’ve been using. I’ve been trying to integrate things from the recreational literature. There’s a lot of connection to place literature out there that exists as well and it’s interesting to note how a lot of these scales have changed through time.

Most of the surfers that I interviewed, they were given questions on a 10 point scale. In my case, I was trying to see if they were able, if the people more connected to the place saw things differently, observe the variables of the place different than people who might not have been as connected to the place. For this site alone, at Honoli’i, I wasn’t able to find anybody not connected to the place. That was based on very standardized questions in the literature. They ask different people…I’m trying to think of some of the questions that they ask, or that we ask in the survey. We ask them, if you aren’t able to come and surf at a particular site, how much would that impact you? We ask if they were to choose from different sites, how is that different? Very similar, like I said, the questions that I ask are standardized questions and the people who are asked the same questions in Maryland had very similar responses.

Surfers are really connected to place. Those are different than the interviews I did with the other watermen. The fishermen and the sailor. Those people, I didn’t exactly assess their connection to the place. Their connection to that place was assessed externally by their peers because they were all identified through a snowball process, to understand who are the experts that really know this place? By being recommended, it’s seen that everyone around you in your community understands that you are of this place and you know how it works. It’s very interesting how some of those people are in their 60s and 70s. Some of those people are still in their late 20s, very young individuals, yet the community around them recognized them not only for their knowledge but their ability to understand the processes that are important in that place.

That was done by a peer review process. There’s a couple of different techniques that we use. Ashley: Thank you. I’m just wondering if anybody over at the Reston office had any questions that they wanted to ask. Laura Thompson: No, I think we’re good here. Thank you, Ashley. Ashley: Excellent. Then, Laura, while I have you, did you have any last minute comments that you’d like to pass along? Laura: I would just like to thank Noelani for giving this presentation and thank you to the attendees. Please join us next time for the NCCWSC webinar. Thank you. Ashley: Thanks, Laura. Then Noelani, any closing thoughts for you as well? Noelani: No. I just encourage people to really start thinking outside of the box as we go into inter-disciplinary work and really understanding how our climates are changing. Just truly understand that the climate will continue to change as we as a people need to change with it and understand our relationship to this place. Ashley: Thank you p..

 

From Sea to Changing Sea | The Role of Oceans in Climate || Radcliffe Institute

[MUSIC PLAYING] – This next panel is going to be talking about the role of the ocean in climates, as a climate driver, and how it’s affected by climates. Just on a personal note, after my trip to the Marshall Islands, I became obsessed with sea surface temperatures. So once a week, I would check the NOAA Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Plot and post it onto Facebook, which earned a lot of funny comments from my friends. But to introduce the topic and to moderate, we have Amala Mahadevan, who was a Radcliffe Fellow for a number of years. She’s a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. And she studies phytoplankton, but also an interesting twist. Phytoplankton and the hydrodynamics of the ocean. How upwellings and gyres and vortices can affect different organisms. So it’s an interesting combination of fluid dynamics and biology. So Amala.

[APPLAUSE] – So thank you, John. So in today’s panel, we’re very excited here to tell you a little bit about how the oceans shape our climate. And since the early history of the Earth, I would say the oceans really have defined the climate on this Earth. We have seen that the inception of life, the evolution of life happened on the ocean. But also, the oceans regulate the atmospheric carbon dioxide and oxygen. And the oceans contain, for that matter, a very large percentage of the Earth’s water, 97% of the Earth’s water is in the oceans. Just about 0.001% of the water is in the atmosphere, just to give you an idea. The oceans contain 98% of the carbon dioxide, in dissolved form, of course. So when we say that atmospheric carbon dioxide is going up or going down, you have to realize that there’s a lot in the oceans and the oceans have, in the past, regulated the atmospheric carbon dioxide very well. Whether they can do that in the future is something that we are still asking.

And the oceans– you know, if you think about heat, where is all the heat, most of the heat, 90% of the heat, is in the oceans. So in many ways, the oceans define the climate. The circulation of the oceans defines the climate. And about half the primary production on the Earth takes place in the oceans. And we see that the oceans are constantly in a state of motion. These ocean currents, they transport heat across the oceans. They transport salt. And in the very fundamental way, the oceans are different from the atmosphere. One is that they have enormous heat capacity. But the atmosphere is heated from below. And so the energy of the sun is what drives the atmosphere. Whereas the oceans, when you heat them by the sun, in fact, it’s stratifies the oceans, or it creates a density contrast, because warmer water doesn’t sink. So in fact, you see that the winds are what drive the ocean to a large extent. And mixing or overturning the oceans is, in fact, very difficult, because the sun warms the oceans.

So in a nutshell, that tells you that it’s difficult to communicate changes through the oceans. But the oceans really support a large part of our primary production on this planet. And so about half that primary production takes place in the oceans. And that organic matter, as we have seen in some of the previous talks, it sinks very gradually. Some of it get sequestered, that carbon to the oceans. So the big perturbation that we’ve made, that humankind has made, is that we have taken out that organic carbon that’s fossilized for millions and millions of years. We have very abruptly brought it out into the atmosphere. And we have created huge changes. And I have to say that the ocean has buffered, is buffering, a lot of that change that we might see because of those abrupt changes. A third of the CO2 that we put out in the atmosphere has gone into the oceans. And when we talk about global warming, and if you were to ask, where is all that heat that has to do with global warming, why is it that we don’t feel very warm today, it’s because 90% of that heat is in the oceans.

So I’m really excited today to have this panel here. We have here three oceanographers whom I really admire, whose work I really admire. Maureen Raymo from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia. And she has worked on the past climate of the Earth. And her work has shown how important it is to think about past climates, and how past climates help us understand the changes that we’re going to go through now, or we’re going through at present. That’s because we have a very short observational window in these last few decades. And so understanding past climate is really important. And then we have Rebecca Woodgate, who is an arctic oceanographer. And she’s done a lot of observations in the Arctic.

And she’s really pushed our understanding of how sea ice and the oceans interact. And the big changes that are occurring in the Arctic, it’s one of the most vulnerable regions in the oceans because of the sea ice and the interaction with the oceans. And then we have Lynne Talley, who has been instrumental in understanding the large scale distribution of temperature, salt, and the global circulation of the oceans. How these things get conveyed and transported across the oceans, what are the changes? And she’s been instrumental in some of the very big ocean observing programs that have global and international programs. And her understanding of the global oceans through those programs has really changed a lot of our understanding as oceanographers.

So it gives me enormous pleasure to have these three people here today. I don’t want you to go away thinking that oceanographers are necessarily women, but some of the best oceanographers are. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] – Well, thank you, Amala. And thank you for inviting me to speak here. I’m very happy to be here. So let me just get right into it. Hopefully, you’ve had time to get the joke. I should also say that video of the ocean swirling is one of my favorite videos in the whole world. It’s called perpetual ocean if you want to pull it up and watch the whole world. OK. So I’ve spent most of my career studying past climate change. And most of the last five to 10 years studying sea level as it relates to the past history of the polar ice sheets. And today, there’s two major polar ice sheets. There’s the one in Greenland, which if you, hypothetically, could melt it all and spread it in a single layer over the ocean, sea level would rise by about six meters or 20 feet.

And then in the South Pole, there’s the West Antarctic ice sheet over here, which again, is about the same size as the Greenland ice sheet. And then the much larger East Antarctic ice sheet, which you have to go back 40 million years to find a time when that whole ice sheet had melted. And at that time, sea level was about 180 feet higher than today. So the question I’ll just pose here is, how sensitive are these ice sheets to a modest global warming? And by modest, I mean, let’s say one degree Celsius warmer than today. I actually know a little bit about a time period that is widely agreed to have been two to three degrees warmer than pre-industrial, which would be one to two degrees warmer than today. And at that time, geochemists, using various methods, have reconstructed atmospheric CO2. It is about 400 PPM, which I know at least some of the people in the room I recognize know that’s exactly what it is today. It’s about 401 this week, PPM. It should be 280 PPM, but we’ll come back to that. And what I’m showing here is a site on the north coast of Ellesmere Island, and an artist’s reconstruction based on the fossils, and plants, and animals, and pollen that have been taken out of that dig show a reconstruction of what the north coast of Greenland and Canada looked like three million years ago.

The Greenland ice sheet did not exist. OK. So climate is changing all the time. Even more recently, there’s been a profound change in climate. This is 21,000 years ago, very recently. And obviously, the Greenland ice sheet has jumped the Davis Strait and has expanded dramatically down over North America and Fennoscandia. I don’t know if this is a big Game of Thrones crowd in here, but if the people that like it will appreciate this quote. So that is the height of the ice sheet over Boston at the peak of the last ice age. OK. So that was just a blink of time ago, obviously. So why do these changes happen? The climate system is infinitely complicated. And there’s no scientist on our planet that can be an expert in every part of the climate system. But at the same time, it’s somewhat very simple. And you can go to the radiation chapter in a freshman physics book and see a very simple equation to calculate the effect of temperature of the Earth.

We don’t need that, but all you need to know is it’s very simple. And the surface temperature of the Earth just adds one more variable, which is the concentration of greenhouse gases. And so I like to think about it when I talk to general audiences, just say, look, the Earth’s climate, the temperature of the Earth– we’re a ball of rock. We get heated by this star that’s a distance away– which I don’t know– one light year? I don’t know. And there’s three variables that control the Earth’s temperature. How close we are to the sun– and that actually varies subtly through time because our orbit isn’t perfectly circular, and other large planets perturb our orbit, like Jupiter and Saturn, on time scales of tens to hundreds of thousands of years in very predictable ways that can be calculated. And sometimes, over billions of years, the solar output of the sun can change. But on human time scales, it’s essentially constant, which is why we call it solar constant.

So that’s one big knob you can change that can control Earth’s temperature. The other is the Earth’s albedo or reflectivity. If you expand the snow and ice coverage at high latitudes, you make the Earth more reflective. And so more of the solar radiation is just lost to space. It’s reflected to space. It’s not available for heating. I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more about that in the Arctic talk. And then, finally, we have this thing called greenhouse gases. And so we have all this heat coming in from the sun. It’s warming the Earth’s surface. The Earth’s surface is cooler than the sun, so it re-radiates outward at longer wavelengths. And it just happens to interfere with the molecular structure of certain gases, especially CO2, which can prevent it from escaping. And then re-radiates it back to the surface. So just like throwing more blankets on on a cold winter night. So these are the three knobs. And everything I know about every climate change that has happened in the past– and this I will show you– can be explained by just changing these three variables.

And I’m going to show you a model. This is the climate model with an ice sheet embedded in it. And it’s the last 400,000 years. This is a sea level scale. And this is what the climate for the last 400 years has looked like, just the only variables being our variable orbit around the sun, changes in the Earth’s precession and tilt of the Earth’s axis, and the CO2 changes that we know occurred from ice cores. And it actually– this is a model result, but it looks remarkably like what we know climate did. Want to see that again? – Yeah. – I could watch it all day. This is a paper we published in Nature by Ayako Abe-Ouchi, who is actually the only female scientist I’ve ever met in my field from Japan. So one of the things you may notice is that ice sheets grow much slower than they melt.

It’s very easy to melt an ice sheet quickly. And the reason is because, as you see, as it starts to retreat, the ice sheet has depressed the land under it. And so the ocean can flow in very quickly and destroy that ice sheet from below as well as from above. So ice sheets can melt very quickly because they can become unstable and warm ocean can flow under them. How quickly? This is data– well, this is the results of a study of Tahiti in the Western Pacific. And what the scientists did was they went offshore and they drilled down. And they can, with very precise dating and drilling, determine the depth below sea level of the coral as it tracked the sea level rise at the end of the last ice age. So as the ice sheets are melting quickly, the seas are rising, the coral is keeping up. It can do that. And they were able to determine that as the last ice sheet deglaciated, sea level was rising at rates of 40 millimeters per year, or 12 feet per century.

So keep that number in your mind as we move forward here. Right now, sea level’s rising to three millimeters per century– sorry, per year. Did I say century? I meant year. Three millimeters per year. But how high was sea level during some of these little periods in the past that were just slightly warmer than today? This is a question that’s very easy to answer and also very difficult to answer. It’s very easy because the evidence for higher sea levels during the recent past is all around you. This is me standing with my postdoc, Nick [? O’Leary ?]. This is the modern Ningaloo reef system in Northwest Australia. We are standing on a stranded fossilized reef that is probably about 400,000 years old from a time period that was slightly warmer than today. This is a reef. This is the fossilized coral. This is my student Mike Sandstrom from the Cape ranges of Western Australia. That’s from the last interglacial warm period, 125,000 years ago.

It’s a few meters above present day sea level. This is from a three million year old deposit in Pliocene, the Pliocene warm period in Africa. No coral, but we have fossil oysters with fossil barnacles still on the fossil oysters. I mean, ooh, you’re at sea level. But why is it difficult? We see this evidence for high sea levels everywhere. The major reason it’s difficult is because the ocean– unfortunately, the ocean basin is not like this tub. And you can’t just look at these as like bathtub rings from the past. The continents, the crust of the sea floor, and the land, they’re constantly in motion. They’re being loaded and unloaded by ice sheets, by water. It’s constantly moving. So it’s quite a challenging problem. And there’s a fantastic group here at Harvard led by Jerry Mitrovica that’s been working on this. And many clever scientists around the room have made huge progress in unraveling these challenges over the last five to 10 years. So I’ll jump right to a summary slide, which is in a paper we published in Science last year. And so here’s– and this is kind of a complicated slide, but it’s really cool too. So here’s a CO2 scale.

There’s pre-industrial CO2. Here’s present day CO2. And here’s a sea level scale. And here’s today’s ice volume. One degree warmer than pre-industrial right now. Here’s 125,000 years ago. The CO2 was the same during that warm period, but we were just so slightly closer to the sun, it was warmer. It was about one degree warmer. A smidge because of the precession of the Earth varied. And all these different studies as to– the estimate of all these different studies is that sea level is six to nine meters higher than today. OK? And this is a window of time that’s 10,000 years long. 400,000 years ago, it was a little bit warmer, six to 13 meters best estimate. And then in the Pliocene, it’s been so long, the continents have moved so much, we have a very hard time. Huge error bars. We don’t really know. But two to three degrees warmer, higher CO2, 400, same as today. And I wish I could tell you more exactly what sea level was at that time. I can’t. OK.

So you know, this is 6 meters, 20 feet. Let’s take it back to just four feet, which is completely within the realm of what could happen by the end of this century. I’m perfectly comfortable with this as a prediction. And I’m sure there are others that are as well. So four feet above present. Five million people live within four feet of sea level in the US today. It’s a huge amount in Florida, obviously. And in terms of our national infrastructure, energy facilities, ports, Naval bases, there’s a huge amount of real estate that is in this zone of risk. Obviously, sea level rise is not just a problem of the United States. It’s a global problem. And we may be hearing more about the Marshall Islands later too. Does anyone recognize this capital city? It’s Mali. It’s the capital of the Maldives. And so you have over 300,000 people living on an island that’s a meter and a half above sea level. And this is just one of like thousands and thousands of inhabited islands around the world.

And when you hear the expression climate refugees, this is what– these are people just like us that you’re hearing about. OK? So I’m going to basically leave two more possibly depressing thoughts about sea level rise. And that is, first of all, I think a lot of people have this vague idea they’ll be able to deal with it, like keep it back. I don’t believe that’s very realistic, just based on my observations of various places I love. And the other thing that’s really important, I think, for people to come to grips with and tell themselves is that sea level rise is irreversible on the time scale of centuries. You could probably cool the Earth’s atmosphere easier than you can regrow an ice sheet. So every year, the increment of water that’s going in from the melting of polar ice sheets and the thermal expansion of sea water, that’s an increment of sea level rise that there, and that we’re going to have to deal with for centuries to come. So to wrap that up, what I know for sure, climate is changing naturally all the time. Small variations, very small variations in incoming solar radiation, albedo, reflectivity, and greenhouse gas concentrations can lead to large and sometimes rapid changes. The activities of seven billion people are capable of causing effects of this magnitude.

And here is the CO2, carbon dioxide, record of the last 10,000 years. The Holocene, the warm window of time within which human culture, agriculture flourished. It was about 270 parts per million. A subtle rise starts about 5,000 years ago. Many scientists believe this is due to early agricultural and deforestation. And then here, this interval right here, blown up right here, here’s the 18th century, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. And this rise is the addition of CO2 to the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels. And obviously, this is out of date. We’re already over 400 PPM. I have another video here. There it is. So this is what that CO2 has done in a very nice visual. We humans have cranked the knob. They’ve taken the CO2 dial and they’ve turned it hard to the right, very hard.

This is a surface temperature anomaly map based on instrumental data from around the world. Want to see that one again? – Yeah. – Yeah? It’s cool. So what you’re looking at is the mean is defined as 1951 to 1980. And so what you’re looking at is every surface anomaly relative to that mean. So the beginning is generally lower than the mean. And as you see, when you get towards the end, you’re generally hotter than the mean. In partnership with that warming atmosphere, heat penetrating the ice sheets, heat penetrating the ocean, causing thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of the ice sheets, sea level has been rising. These are various different studies based on different techniques, including tide gauges. And they’re in more disagreement the further back in time you go.

But I think what everybody is in agreement about is that sea level is rising and the rate is accelerating. This is from a post-doc at Harvard, Carling [INAUDIBLE]. And just to take this time window, 1900 to 2000, and put it on a time scale of the last 2,000 years– right? It’s all about perspective, right? Here’s that same curve. You would put it right here. So natural variability, the rise in sea level due to two human-induced global warming. So what is the– I’ll just wrap up here. One more slide. What is the atmospheric CO2 and sea level likely to do over the coming century? And of course, it’s not just the next 100 years. It’s many hundreds of years into the future. This is not a scientific question that scientists can answer. This is a question that’s going to be completely dependent on the individual and collective actions of citizens and their governments. But I will say that if you look at this, here is our current CO2 emission rates. And what this is showing is these are the paths that, as a planet, we have to choose to be on. Can we turn around global CO2 emission rates quickly or is it going to take longer? And the point to make here is even if you turned it around today, you’re still putting CO2 into the atmosphere.

Much of it’s going into the ocean, but most of it stays in the atmosphere. And it will stay there for hundreds of years. So even if you turned it around today, you’re committing yourself to CO2 levels up around 500 parts per million. Every decade you put it off, you commit yourself to higher and higher sea levels down the road. So as someone who knows what these changes in CO2 have done in the past, this would be of great concern. OK. So I’ll just thank you for listening. And happy to take questions later. [APPLAUSE] – Well, good morning. I’m Rebecca Woodgate from the University of Washington, Seattle. And for the next 20 minutes, I would like to take you up to the top of the world, peer into the Arctic, like this polar bear is appearing into her Arctic. In her case, she sees a submarine come at her. Something she doesn’t understand, probably.

There’s things about the Arctic we do and do not understand. This word here, Uggianaqtuq– it’s an Inuit word. It means “a friend acting strangely.” And that’s how the Inuit, who have lived in the Arctic now for around 10,000 years, how they now view the Arctic. A system that they know and love, which is behaving in ways they cannot understand. Where is the Arctic? It falls off a lot of maps. Here it is at the top of these maps. It turns up squashed into a little layer at the top. But if you take a globe and you peer down from the top of it, you can see there’s a proper ocean up there. You can twist this map round because it is usual when you’re talking about the Arctic to put the country you’re talking in at the bottom. Lots of countries here.

Lots of countries vying for owning the Arctic. This picture– anyone know this picture? This is the Russians putting their flag at the North Pole, three miles down under the ocean, in 2007, saying it’s theirs. We’re not going to go there today, but there’s interesting debates about that. Give you an idea of scale, this is relative to something I hope you recognize. It’s bigger than the US. If you want some numbers, here’s some numbers on it. It’s the smallest of the world’s five major oceans. But it’s famous in many, many ways, even before the changes of recent days, for frozen ships, for passageways, for the hunt for the North Pole, et cetera. Perhaps of the most poignant is the Northwest Passage, which is this route between the Atlantic Ocean, which is down here, and the Arctic. The search for the Northwest Passage.

And let’s start there. Let’s start with some recent Arctic ships. Can anyone tell me what this is? This is the wreck of the HMS Terror. This was a ship which set sail from England in 1850, 1845, looking for the Northwest Passage. The Franklin Expedition, the lost Franklin Expedition. It’s not a happy story. They overwintered three years in the archipelago trying to find a way through. After more than one and a half years struck in the ice, they left the ship trying to walk South and none of them survived. And since then, we’ve been looking for those ships. We found those ships in the last year. I say we– this is Parks Canada. The Canadians put a lot of effort into doing this. This is the ship on happier days. Some years before this, 1836, getting stuck in the sea ice was an occupational hazard of being an Arctic explorer in those days. So another ship in the news this summer. Anyone know this one? This is the Crystal Serenity, a luxury cruise liner, 1,000 passengers, 700 crew, which had just gone through the same fabled Northwest Passage in three weeks, stopping in villages which have a population less than a third of the number of people on the ship.

Contrast these, the Franklin’s Expedition. Here they are. This is as far as they got. This is where, basically, the whole crew perished. Nobody came home. And the Crystal Serenity, which has gone through in a nice planned trip for three weeks, come out in New York. What’s the difference? The difference between this is ice. Let’s talk about ice. So if I take sea water and freeze it, I start to get very little crystals. They float up to the surface of the ocean. They form a kind of an oily layer on the top of the ocean, which gradually pushes together to form a sheet of ice. OK. This has some resilience. I wouldn’t walk on this at this stage, but it will push together and you can see the edges. You can see here the striations of the layers push against each other. Let it go a bit further and these layers form into more sheets.

If you’re a penguin, you can walk on this. No, there are no penguins in the Arctic. As these sheets come together, we call this pancake ice. People at sea will think of a lot of things. And they get thicker and come together over a period a few more days to make into ice floes. Ice floes can be several yards to a mile to several miles across. I don’t know how you got here, but this gives you an idea of scale. This is the first time that I would walk on this stuff. This is about one to two meters thick. So here to here thick. This is first year ice, will form over season. Here’s a ship plowing through the ice. As it goes through, it pushes the ice up on edge so you can see how thick the ice is from here to here. This is not how we get the thickest ice in the Arctic. If you just let it grow over more than one year, it would grow to three meters, not quite reach that.

Nine feet tall. But what makes it really thick is as those pieces of ice, those floes of ice push together, they ridge, just like a mountain range will ridge. And this is what makes our thickest pieces of ice. I’ve put here a picture from one of the pretty buildings from my university. 90 feet tall is this tower. And that is a not atypical height for a ridge that you’d get in the Arctic. Just like an iceberg, there’s more below than above. So if we have this chap standing here beside the ice, and we measure how far above the water he would be and how far below the keel, you’re looking about an ice keel about the height of that building. So these are common sizes of thicknesses of ice in the Arctic. Now, while this is pushing together here, it’s coming apart somewhere else.

And this gives us what is called leads in the ice, cracks in the ice which can appear overnight. Very, very quickly. Sometimes in inconvenient places. This is a current hazard of Arctic exploration, as you might get a lead come through your camp in the middle of the night, with interesting consequences. Didn’t fall in, we don’t really mind. I prefer to work off ships for that reason. And you can see some ships here. Here the ship is giving the scale of the ice floes. As the summer carries on, the sun melts, the snow on the top of the ice gives you melt ponds in the top of the ice, which will eventually decay the ice away. It is a habitat for life, is ice. We have our charismatic megafauna. And we have our, perhaps, not so charismatic tiny fauna. This little brown striations you see here, that’s not mud and that’s not paint off the ship. That is actually little microbial community plankton which are growing in the channels of ice. You can do this yourself. Go home, take some salty water, chuck it in the freezer.

And tomorrow morning, put drops of food coloring in it and you can see the channels that go through the sea ice which are channels for life. It’s also home for people. The Inuit have made their history in the Arctic for 10,000 years. And to them, ice is not a hindrance. Ice is their way of getting around. Ice is their highway. So where are we today? This is almost today’s sea ice there. This is a satellite image. Greenland’s here. The colors give you the ice concentration. These dark areas are water. You can see the sea ice now building up from it’s expanding as the winter has started in the North, expanding back out to the coasts and down into the lower latitudes. That’s a snapshot of today. It’s a large seasonal cycle in the sea ice. This again, satellite data. We’re over here, again, now showing the maximum extent in winter and the minimum extent in summer. Occur March and September respectively. Large seasonal change, of course, because the sun comes up and melts the ice. Well, how does this year compare with the past? We have this satellite data back to 1979. And I pulled out the years which have the maximums in the seasons and the minimums in the seasons. And to make it a bit easier to see, I’m going to change it now to sea ice extent.

And this pink line in both of these maps shows the monthly median edge from ’81 to 2010. So what we thought was standard for most of our satellite record. So in the winters, you know, we’re kind of close to that. Getting a few changes. But the summers, we’re seeing this very dramatic loss of sea ice. Let’s put those on time scales. Here we have the whole time series we have, and the trend line through that. And it’s not very much. It’s a few percent per decade. This is the winter. But in the summer, we’re getting a very much greater change, 13% per decade. OK. That’s we’re losing– 13% of the ice per decade we’re losing in the Arctic. To look at where we’re losing it, in the winter, we’re losing it around the edges. In the summer, we’re losing it in the middle. We’ll come back to these patterns in a moment. So we’re losing ice area? Oh, yeah.

The area that we’ve lost so far is about a third of the area of the US. And we’ve probably lost about 50% of the old summer sea ice extent, from about the 1980s. It’s not just that that we’ve lost. We’ve also thinned the ice. So it’s harder to put this together. We put together from submarines and satellite images. But this gives you an idea, in the 1980s– this is winter and summer– we had about three meters of ice. And now, in more recent era, we’re down to about half that. This satellite picture’s showing you how that’s distributed. There’s lots of statistics that have to go into this. But this is confirmed by everybody who goes up there, the people who live there, who talk about– saying we no longer get the strong, thick ice we used to have. We only have feeble, weak, young ice.

So you can say sea ice is thin from very roughly about 50%. Put that together, we’ve lost extent, we’ve thinned. We end up with a loss of volume. This is our best estimate to try and put that all together, which is a model, and which says we have lost basically 30%. No, we’ve not lost 30%, we only have 30% left of the summer ice that used to have. OK? Some people will say this is a quarter, but it’s around that magnitude. So there’s a huge change we’ve seen in the Arctic in the last decades. How did we get here? Polar bear. We’re always going to have a polar bear. How did he get there either? So we got there in many ways. Things that we understand and things that we don’t. We understand now how well the ice moves. So if we put a pole in the ice at the North Pole, the floe drifts around and the ice moves with it.

To be more useful in that, we can put in a set of instruments which will tell you their position. So dates rolling in the corner here. White is the satellite sea ice extent going from the summer to the winter to the summer to the winter. And the little red dots are buoys that have been put on the ice and register their position. You see they go around in a kind of circle around here. Some of them run down the edge of Greenland like this. This is how the sea ice is moving. They’re just sat on the sea ice. They jiggle around together because the wind is forcing them. And we can see this pattern of a circulation there, and then ice coming around here and coming out down this way. And as we come to the 2000s, we see the summer extent getting less every year. And we can see this melting back to this incredible ice melt in 2007, which really was something that nobody expected or saw coming.

So from that data, we can go on and say, well, we can see how this is moving. We can tell how old the ice is. And this is a similar movie where the colors are now the age of the ice. So white is now greater than 10 years, and these bluer colors are more recent, younger ice than that. It’s the same buoys as you saw before. We’re seeing here in the 1980s, most of the Arctic was covered by old ice. But changes in the wind have changed that. We’ve taken all this area of ice, then managed to flush it out down here through to the Atlantic Ocean. And over this time period, we’re losing the older ice in the Arctic and coming back to just having a very much younger, newer ice in the Arctic Ocean. We’ve flushed the old stuff all away. To see the before and after, if you like, here is the before. Lots of old ice.

And here is the new with very little ice left. In doing that, we’ve flushed away the old, thick, resilient ice. It now moves faster and it’s thinner. The other thing that goes with that is that it can also melt easier. If we look at how things have changed, is it just due to this motion? No, it’s not. This is a movie of 2000, again looking at ice and clouds now. So here’s Greenland again. And you see here the coast of Alaska around these points. The big things that swell past are clouds. But mostly, what you see underneath, this is the ice moving. Sometimes the wind blows. You’ll see black open up here. That’s open water opening up along the coast you see here. You see– if you watch this bit, you can kind of sense the motion, which is the same motion we saw before. You see these massive cracks coming across the whole of the Arctic. Those are the leads that we talked about as the ice pulls apart driven by winds and currents. In summer here, the ice starts to pull back from the coast.

And you can see here the retreat of the edge, which is faster than the speed of the ice. Basically, as we watch those through August and through September, that ice just entirely melts away. OK. So what causes it to melt? The main thing is this idea of an ice albedo feedback. This is the reflectivity that was talked about a second ago. Quite simply, the ice is shiny and the water is not. So if sunlight beats on the ice, it reflects that heat back to space. If it beats on open water, that heat is absorbed and we get a feedback. Let’s say we start with more ocean water. That water can absorb more heat. That means it will get warmer, which means it will melt some more ice, which means we have more open water, which means we go round and round this circle. It’s a vicious circle. A vicious circle of demise of sea ice. The technical physical term for that is a positive feedback. And so once we can set this off, the only thing that’s going to stop this is by turning off the light. Winter coming is the only thing that will stop this feedback. But we have to set this off.

And to set this off, what can we do? We can blow the wind off the coast. But there’s a further role which is bringing heat into the Arctic, and that is the oceans. This is now a map of the bathymetry of the Arctic Ocean. Deep bits of blue about the size of our local volcano in Seattle. The shallow red bits are more shallow. And there’s other things there that give you some idea of scales. We have an entrance here to the Atlantic Ocean, an entrance here to the Pacific. And waters flow from both of those oceans into the Arctic. Here’s the Atlantic water which comes in, the deep current. And it likes to put its hand on the right hand wall like a good current should in the Northern hemisphere, because the Earth is spinning. And it goes around following slopes and ridges. It goes around very slowly, a few centimeters per second.

So it’ll take eight hours to go one mile. So if we send some water in here, depending whether it takes the short route back through here or the longer loops back through here, it can take 10, 20, or 30 years to get back out again. So we send a heat signal into the Arctic, that the time it’s going to go around and then come back. On the other side, the water comes from the Pacific. That’s higher up in the water column. It’s also a lot fresher. It tends to stay with the top of the ocean. And it’s more driven by the ice and by the winds. It moves a lot faster. It actually covers about half of the Arctic Ocean here, then comes out through the Canadian archipelago. So it will only take about 10 years to cross the Arctic. What both these currents have in common is they bring in heat to the Arctic Ocean. Here’s some pictures off the Fram Strait, seeing the heat from the ocean coming up and melting the ice. If we look at that Atlantic layer, [INAUDIBLE] that we had for that, and we look at the ice edge, we can see here these tongues of hot water coming across Greenland and the Bering Sea here, melting back the ice edge. Very suggestive from the patterns that the oceans are bringing in the heat, which is melting off the ice. And I show you that as a pattern, that we can do the maths.

We’ve had measurements in these channels at great expense for many years. We can see that over these decades, the temperature of the waters have warmed as we go through the channel there. And you can do the maths, so you can work it out. But we’re just about right for the numbers, the amount of winter ice that we’re losing in this area, which is 10% per decade in this particular area, is likely caused by an ocean warming of 0.3% per decade. It corresponds to that map we had of where we saw the ice going away in winter. We flip over to the other side of the Arctic, the Pacific, here the water’s coming in and only warm in the summer. But we see the same pattern. We have here the same, the tongues of water, again driven by the topography, melt back tongues in the ice. And this is now. We’ve got the sun up here.

We can set this off. And now the ice albedo feedback can take over and melt back the ice. The other thing that this water does, it ends up deeper in the Arctic Ocean and it can add to the gradual thinning to the ice that is there. Yet another nail in the coffin of the poor Arctic sea ice. Again, we’ve had measurements here for many years. We can see this heat flow increasing. And we can do the maths, and we can say, this is the effect of these heat flows. We’ve got warmer waters coming in from both sides. So what is our causes of recent sea ice retreat? The increased heat from the Pacific, increased heat from the Atlantic. Warmer atmospheres I haven’t talked about, but that’s coming into this too. Added on to a preconditioning, where we have flushed this older ice out of the Arctic. So all of these things are conspiring to give the Arctic a really bad day. Right? We’ve all had bad days like this. This is the Arctic’s bad day. Quite how these interplays, things that we still have to put together.

We have so far not managed to predict any of these extreme ice melt years that we have had. So what sort of a hole are we in? This guy– this is how we used to do Arctic oceanography. This is one of our technicians who has chiseled his way down through a bit of sea ice. OK, this is a good bit of sea ice. Chiseling down so he can get to the ocean below. OK? Digging himself a hole. The ice albedo feedback is kind of a killer in all of this. It comes with the idea of polar amplification. We saw that in an earlier video, though you may not have been looking for it. The poles are going to warm first, especially the Arctic, because we are losing the albedo. We’re losing the shininess of the Earth, and we’re allowing all that energy to absorb into the ocean. Quite how that is going to play out as we push those Arctic waters into the rest of the world, we haven’t quite worked out. That’s more Lynne’s field than mine. What also comes with this is a change in the atmospheric circulation. There is a cap of cold air which sits over the Arctic which basically can get extra wobbles on it.

And those wobbles are thought to be driven by changes in the sea ice extent. And that gives us the cold air outbreaks and the dumping of snow onto the East Coast that we’ve seen in recent years. This is how the Arctic extends its fingers down into mid-latitude weather. There is also the impact in the Arctic of where the warming that we’re having, permafrost thawing, loss of ice protection from erosion. If the ice pulls back earlier, the storms can affect things more. And we have whole villages falling into the sea. Loss of infrastructure in terms of roads, buildings that are built on permafrost. Also within the permafrost, we have a large store of methane hydrates. These are frozen methane under the sea. Currently stable, but as we warm, we could release that with potentially huge consequences. We don’t quite know how that one will play out either.

We also have with this the opportunities which are coming from this– exploitation of resources and Arctic shipping, which can now talk about going across the pole. And in all of this too, we think about the peoples and the governments. There are people who live up there, who this is their way of life. And there are the governments of the world who are clamoring to own that piece of the ocean. So what have we seen in our trip around the Arctic? We’ve changed the seasonal ice extent, how it changes. How we’ve thinned the ice. If you take just that one number, take away this. We’re only left with 30% of the ice that we used to have in the summer just a few decades ago. We’ve looked at why that things might be causing that. And we’ve looked at the possible implications of all of this. It’s a field which, because of the ramifications, these broad ramifications, and the way the thing interacts, we really need not just an interdisciplinary, but also a cross-cultural approach to have a responsible and coherent way of going forward into the future. Thank you.

[APPLAUSE] – OK. Now for some more good news. [LAUGHTER] Here we go. Well, I live in– I’m from Scripps. This is what it looks like every day. So up here, I have to put on a jacket. I thought I would go ahead and put my cartoon, my favorite one out in front, because we’ve lived in kind of a politicized environment the last two years as climate scientists. And I think it’s ameliorating a little bit. We’re going back to some sanity. But this is one I’ve had in there a long time. And I’m going to talk a bit about how we get from oceans to drought, or what we can learn about the water cycle of the planet from what we measure in the ocean. And I actually have a very brief set of definitions, because we have– actually, speaking from a place of– I’m going to show a lot of results from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC.

I had the great privilege to be part of it the last two reports we put together the first time. It had an oceans chapter two times ago. And we continued that with this one. So I’m going to show a lot of stuff from a particular slant in the IPCC of how the oceans are changing and how they contribute to climate change. But first, you want to know what we’re talking about. So there’s climate. And there’s climate variability. We have a lot of that. And there’s El Nino. Some years are stormy, some years are not, et cetera. That’s natural. And we have major natural climate variability on the planet. And that can be affected by climate change, which is what we drive through anthropogenic forcing. And so we’re seeing all kinds of records now. So I just want to get those two definitions in place. It’s kind of, well, [INAUDIBLE] such that we have a framework there. These are four major overarching conclusions from the IPCC. This is not the oceans part.

This is the whole thing. Number one, which Susan Solomon put forward in the 2007 IPCC as the head of the working Group 1, warming of the climate system is unequivocal. We came home from that with buttons to wear. Warming is unequivocal. Global warming does not cause ice ages. That was the second part of that. Number two, human influence on the climate is clear. Number three, continued greenhouse gas emissions will cause further warming. And number four, limiting climate change requires substantial sustained reductions of emissions. So let’s look at the Earth. Is it warming? We’ve already seen this in video. This is the trend since 1901 up through 2012. Where it’s white is where there’s not enough data. Mostly it’s warming. There it is. And it’s mostly warming over land, but it’s warming over the sea, and that’s important. This is from this wonderful NASA website, climate.

nasa.gov. Go on there if you want to put something on your Facebook page there every day from there. It’s great. There is our graph. And when you go online, actually, that red dot at the end animates. Boom, boom, boom. It’s the hottest ever measured with direct records this past year. And this year, 2016, was higher. So there we are. We’re getting warmer. And they give you a nice number for how much warmer we are. It’s almost one degree warmer. It’s projected to get warmer. And there’s– the IPCC has different ways of going about that with business as usual, or some reductions, or whatever. So you get from moderate to extreme. The one on the left is– the right, your right, is obviously more extreme. But that’s where we’re going if you just burn it all. And you see the polar amplification that Maureen and Rebecca were talking about due to the ice changes in the North. And you see the ocean in the South is not doing a lot.

There’s a lot of ocean down there. Water has a lot of heat capacity. What’s creating climate change? Greenhouse gases mainly. This is the big elephant in the room. And they are the dominant cause of observed warming. There’s other ways– very complicated subject, but this is the big part of it. And the largest contribution is CO2. And this is the Keeling curve last night, 401. We’re actually at the low for the year because we’re at the end of the northern hemisphere summer. This is measured at the top of Mauna Loa. Dave Keeling set this up in the International Geophysical Year, 1957. And with dogged persistence, kept it going. And now it’s recognized as our really amazing record. You see the planet breathing, and the summertime and wintertime, summertime and wintertime. And relentlessly going up.

And that’s the tail at the end of the curve that Maureen showed. What happens with the greenhouse gases? We get lots of stuff happening, bad stuff. Well, different stuff. It depends on whether it’s good or bad. Warming– atmosphere and ocean. We melt the ice. We melt the ice sheets. We raise sea level. We do change the hydrological cycle. We’re going to change the patterns of drought and floods. Not the patterns, but the strength of drought and floods. We have more extreme events. You can’t attribute any given storm to global warming, but you can attribute years of changes in extreme events. Ocean acidification is another important one for the ocean. So looking at the ocean, how does the ocean participate in each of these parts of it? In carbon– just one or two slides– heat, and ice, just a little bit, sea level rise, and the water cycle.

So a statement from the IPCC– the ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide. OK, that’s an important number. You put a certain amount of carbon up in the– you burn it. It’s coming from fossil– it’s fossil fuel burning. 8% land, 92% percent fossil fuel. Fossil fuel burning into the atmosphere. A third stays up there, a third goes into fertilizing the land, and a third goes into the ocean. And the ocean is not going to sit there and soak up the next 40%, 50%, 60%. This is an equilibrated sort of system. And once it’s there, it’s there. Maureen showed a nice graph showing that we’re in a commitment phase. You put the CO2 in the atmosphere. It’s not going anywhere. A third goes into the ocean of the part that goes up. How do you get it out? Well, you have to stop burning it to keep it flat. And then maybe you need to start removing it. Here’s the other CO2 problem. The ocean is 70% of the Earth’s surface. That CO2, 30% that goes into the ocean, it’s not a garbage dump that you just put in the backyard.

It goes in and it affects the marine life. So you get acidification. Carbonic acid is formed when you dissolve CO2 into water. A little bit changes the pH. And that excess acid has important impacts on organisms. And there’s a pteropod. They’re kind of in danger. They have beautiful movies of them– I didn’t bring any animations– flittering around. The poor pteropods. Anyway, coral reefs, et cetera, you may read about all these things. And this is going on now. And so there are projections of how the surface pH will change in the ocean, and also how the undersaturation, how much acidification is impacting the organisms. That’s it for carbon. That’s an important second part of the carbon problem, if you haven’t been kind of cued into it before though, that the oceans are affected by the extra carbon as well. Now we go to heat. OK. So you’ve heard this number already, that the excess energy in the system due to anthropogenic forcing. So this is the excess. Not just the heat, but the excess is more than 90% of what’s in there. So yay, the ocean is really helping us out. If that were in the atmosphere, think of how warm we would be.

And I’ll show a graph. How do we know these things? So this is where we get to what I do. We go out to sea and make measurements. How do we know where the heat is? We measure it. This is the latest– yesterday’s, maybe today, yesterday– map of where we have had ocean temperature and salinity profiles over the last month. So we have a global network now. It’s been a phenomenal community, international effort. Technology was invented at Scripps by Russ Davis. Dean Roemmich at Scripps has been instrumental in taking this to the world. Taking the instruments to the world. This is our network for the ocean. It’s the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean. That is a picture of a float that we were putting out off of a ship in the Indian Ocean last year. Here’s what you get from it. Is the ocean temperature changing? Yeah, it is. This is the change in heat content in the upper part of the ocean– 700 meters times three, 2,000 feet– since 1950. Mostly red.

Oh, OK. And then there’s a lot of really interesting structure to it that we could spend days and months discussing. But it’s mostly red. It’s pretty patchy, because we’re using measurements since 1950. So it’s ship measurements in addition to these floats. And then– I’m in the middle of that one– we go out to sea and we measure to get the rest of the ocean to the bottom, to see how it’s changing over the decades. And we make extremely accurate measurements. And here’s a map from Sarah Purkey and Greg Johnson. How to make your thesis become a classic– you get 10,000 citations. This is the map. This is using our very precise– very accurate– not precise but very accurate deep measurements to look at where the warming is happening below 4,000 meters. And you see it’s a very different pattern. This is a big eye opener. It’s very much in the South. And this is where a deep water forms around Antarctica and goes to the bottom. And the balance is changing.

And essentially, the deep water is changing in properties. There’s less of it. And that makes the deep ocean warm. So we have a lot of interesting observations, a lot of interesting things to think about. This is our take home graph on warming. There’s the title, “Global warming is ocean warming.” And there is our– let’s see, is there a pointer here? Yes, there’s a pointer. I’m going to show this. Here we go. OK, this is the total heat in the whole system, everything. So this is not just anthropogenic. This is it. There’s some funny units over here, zettajoules. This is years since we’ve had enough measurements to do this. There’s the total. OK, down here, there’s a little tiny purple line. That’s the atmosphere. That’s how much the atmosphere is warm. So there was huge press [INAUDIBLE] about the hiatus.

Anybody heard of the hiatus out there? There’s a lot of skepticism. Well, the skeptics could say, oh, the climate’s not changing, because look, it’s flat for the last 10 years. Well, that was flat in this curve down here. Is it flat in that one? Oh, no. What is this? This is the upper ocean, the upper 700 meters of the ocean. This is the deep ocean, below 700 meters. You see, this is the 93% we’re talking about. There’s bumps and wiggles. Yes, there’s climate variability, but there’s a relentless upward swing there. And most of the heat is in the ocean, thank goodness. But it also means that’s what’s happening. When we have these bumps and wiggles in our surface temperature, hiatus, et cetera, what’s happening is there’s an exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere. And the ocean is sitting there going, yeah OK, let’s have a mode.

And let’s take up some heat and change the temperature at the surface. But the heat in the whole system is going up. What’s this doing? Overall, the heating of the whole system. There’s the ice. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass. Glaciers are continuing to shrink worldwide. That’s not the ocean so I’m not showing it. Arctic sea ice, et cetera. And the Antarctic sea ice has expanded, which is very interesting topic. And there’s workshops going on about that. That’s attributable to– the largest extent is in the winter when there’s no ice albedo feedback. It’s dark down there. And the wind is blowing stronger because of global warming. And the wind pushes the ice out. So the cover is going up. We’ve already seen these great pictures of the Arctic ice.

Here’s the ice sheet warming. This is Greenland, where it’s warming and losing mass. There’s the mass loss. This is Antarctica where it’s warming. Here’s the mass loss. You note it’s not the whole thing. So yeah, we’re going to be kind of happy with only– how many meters was that? – Six. – Six meters, as opposed to 180. Six meters of ice loss. As an oceanographer, we’re interested in this. You’ve already seen from Rebecca and from Maureen how the ocean affects the ice balance. This is in the Antarctic. This is the Antarctic ice sheet. This is the increased ice loss from the Antarctic ice shelves. And the ocean is a part of the culprit. It’s not just the atmospheric temperature, but the ocean is wrapping warm water coming out of the North Atlantic. It’s spiraling upwards towards Antarctica. Guess where it hits x marks the spot? Over here. So this is where it spirals in very close to Antarctica.

And we’re working hard on quantifying that in models, how much of this ice loss is due to accelerations of this pathway of warm water to the surface. So you don’t see the third dimension here. It’s going from 3,000 meters deep up to 200 meters. This is the mean state. This is the way the ocean is set up. So this is the incursion of warm water. And changes in that, probably due to winds, may increase this mass loss over here. Are the seas rising? Yes, you’ve already seen that they are. Here’s the IPCC summary. Rate of sea level rise has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia. It’s gone up 20 centimeters. Well, 20 centimeters, oh, that’s not very much. You go oh, go home, sleep well. Who cares? Oh, well, with that 20 centimeters also comes an increase in the– and the more storminess– storm surges go up. There’s a change– there’s actually different rates for different parts of the tide. That aside, well, let’s say– well, the most important thing about that 20 centimeters is that it’s relentless. So I’ll show you a graph and to– First, I want to just give you a little pedagogy here on why sea level goes up.

It goes up for three reasons. Number one, the ocean warms so it expands. OK, that’s all that heat there. Number two, ice sheets, land-based ice melt. Not sea ice. Sea ice is like ice cubes in your iced tea. When it melts, your iced tea doesn’t overflow. But when the ice sheet melts, it does fill up. So you’re adding water to the ocean from glaciers and ice sheets. So the sea ice melt doesn’t change it, but the ice sheet melt, the shelf melting and ice sheet melting does. Those are two big factors. The third big factor in the change in sea level is rebound over thousands of years. You can go on this wonderful NOAA website and find information from all the long tide gauges around the coastlines. And you’d see a pattern, mostly up arrows. And these are from the tide gauges, some of our favorite ones.

The down ones may be the rebound. OK, La Jolla. We just celebrated 100 years of La Jolla records. It’s out at the end of the pier there. People are out there every single day making manual measurements of temperature and salinity. There is an automated tide gauge out there. 100 years– is 100 years enough was the question that was posed. Well, yeah. Should we stop? No. Don’t stop, because here’s the record. You fit a line through it. Relentlessly going up. Lots of bumps and wiggles. And if you only have 20 years, or you stop, what do you know? You’ve got to keep measuring it. So this tide gauge goes. And let’s move over to Boston. What’s going on here? Ooh, same answer. 1921, out there in the Boston Harbor, in this kind of very picturesque corner, is the Boston tide gauge that’s been there since 1921, maintained by the Coast Guard.

And the same kind of picture, bumps and wiggles, and a line fit through it going up relentlessly. You can make a map. This map doesn’t look like it’s going up relentlessly. There’s places where it’s blue, it’s going down. This is only since 1993. If you went back to these things and started in 1993, you might see sea level going down. So you’re seeing natural modes of variability superimposed on relentless sea level rise. So the idea is that it keeps going up. Here’s the projections. It should be up by at least a meter by the end of the century. OK. So last but not least, that sea level is just going to come up. What about our rain? What about our drought? What about the things that matter to agriculture? What about the things that matter to populations in arid areas? OK.

So what we’re going to be able to see here is that the ocean salinity is acting as a global rain gauge, which is great. We can actually learn a lot from ocean measurements that we can’t from just rain gauges on land. What we’ve found, to summarize and then go through why, is that since the ’50s, where the surface waters are saltiest, they’ve gotten saltier. Where they’re fresher, they’ve gotten fresher. That means we’ve changed the amount of evaporation and precipitation. It’s doing more of both. So places that are evaporating are evaporating more. Places that are raining are raining more. And that means that if you extrapolate that over to land, where you have arid regions, they become more arid. Where you have wet regions, they become wetter. So we have seen over the ocean enhancement of the pattern of evaporation minus precipitation.

This is some graphs from land which are showing this pattern, that will show it big time with the ocean, that the dry areas are getting drier, the wet areas are getting wetter. This is rich get richer, poor get poorer in terms of water. They can only measure that over the land. What we do with the ocean, these are the mean state of the ocean. The top plot is the surface salinity. Maybe something you’ve never looked or thought about before. Where it’s orange, it’s high. Where it’s blue, it’s low. You can see the patterns. And this bottom plot is showing evaporation minus precipitation. Where it’s red is where there’s more evaporation. Where it’s blue is where there’s more rain. And that matches up pretty well with the surface salinity pattern. So they’re very closely related to each other.

So the way you change salinity is you add water or you subtract water, because the salt is out there. It’s the dilution. You put in more water, it will get fresher. You take out the water, it gets saltier. So we can stack some plots. That plot of the evaporation precipitation is here. This is a world map in the middle. This is a world map of the salinity at the sea surface. And above them– well, I’ll do the once on top first. The one at the top is showing you the trend in the water vapor in the atmosphere. OK, the whole thing that drives all this is the atmosphere is warmer, so it can get wetter. So it’s holding more moisture. So it’s cranking more through, because it doesn’t hold a lot of water. Most of the water is in the ocean. That means it’s just picking it up and dumping it out, picking it up and dumping it out. So the trend in water vapor globally is to be more. There are some places that are drier. Mostly it’s wetter. This map that’s noisy, because our data is kind of noisy, is the trend in surface salinity. And it maps pretty nicely onto the actual map of surface salinity.

So that’s when we’re saying that the salty areas are getting saltier, the fresh areas are getting fresher. In this sort of noi– we have uncertainty measurements on that, this noisy sense. So surface salinity is suggesting that globally we’re having this change in the pattern. And then we can make projections up to the end of the century using all these climate models, which show this pattern of change in evaporation precipitation. So the trends look a lot like the actual situation. The actual mean state. So where it is evaporative, it becomes more evaporative. So you get dry. And where it’s wet, you get more floods. OK. So I am behind. I’m going to skip that, just to summarize and finalize. Climate change in the ocean.

Earth is warming now. 93% of the heat has gone into the ocean. Hydrological balance is shifting now. It’s strengthening now. Oceans are acidifying now. Ice sheets are breaking up and sea level rise is going on. All of these are projected to strengthen. So there is strong evidence for climate change. And I think that’s all. I’ll stop there. [APPLAUSE] – I would like to thank the speakers. And I’ll start off with a few questions to the panel. And in the meantime, we’ll have a mic set up, so if you want to ask questions, we’ll go until 12:15. So let me start off by asking, maybe Lynne and Rebecca, there’s big differences between the two poles and how they work in making the Earth’s climate what it is. And well, one big difference is the Arctic is in the ocean and Antarctica is a land mass. But there is a circulation around Antarctica. Maybe you could throw some light for us as to why the Antarctic ice sheet is not melting at the rate that sea ice is melting. And during the glacial interglacial fluctuations, there was a huge change in ice volume in the Northern hemisphere.

I believe not as much in the Southern hemisphere. So what are the big differences there? – I think you already said it. It’s inside out. So one is ocean surrounded by land and the other is land surrounded by ocean. And that just completely changes the way they respond to the winds. Both of them have wind patterns. The Antarctic sea ice area is out in the westerly wind bands. That’s like where you live right here up through Greenland. Whereas the Arctic is the other direction. There’s a lot of pieces of this. I don’t know where to start. So there’s a lot of ocean in the Southern hemisphere. There’s a lot of land in the Northern hemisphere. That makes it a different response. There are easterly winds ringing around the Arctic. And the easterly winds in the Antarctica are right along the coast. And they’re really important for pushing water into the coast. But the main wind pushes the ice out from Antarctica towards where it melts. So you have this– what we’re doing with global warming is spinning up those winds.

They’re getting stronger because the contrast in temperature are bigger. There’s bigger winds, and that’s pushing ice out farther. So even if the volume and so forth is a little different, the extent is getting bigger. There’s more– I think that’s the biggest one on the sea ice. And the Arctic is just warming. The Antarctic is only warming in the west Antarctic area. – Yes, I’d agree with that, basically. I mean, you’ve got just a very different geography, which allows different things to happen. So around Antarctica, we have the strongest current in the world, the Antarctic circumpolar current, which manages to isolate things down into Antarctica. In the Arctic, we don’t have that. We have an ocean we can flow waters into from either side. The ice in the Arctic is generally– it’s sea ice. It’s thin ice. It’s some meters thick. And the Antarctic’s a dirty, great big chunk of land ice which is kilometers thick. So you have a different whole climate associated with those things. It’s nice to have two poles, right? – During the glacial, was the Antarctic ice sheet much thicker? – So in North America, the ice that was over Boston was flowing from central Canada down to here.

In Antarctica, the ice expanded, but it was only able to expand out to the end of the Arctic ice shelf, which was more exposed because of the sea level drop because of the Northern hemisphere ice sheet. But then it just falls off the continent and flows away. So it really is– there’s no land for it to move northward onto. It’s limited by the size of the Antarctic continent. – So I have another question about what oceanographers call the meridional overturning circulation. So the oceans transport heat from the tropics to the poles. And there’s been a lot of papers that came out about the strength of this overturning circulation. From the paleo literature, we know that in the past, the strength of the circulation has changed. And so what is our current thinking? If we melt sea ice and we put all this fresh water up there at the poles, do we think that’s going to change the rate of deep water formation and the overturning rate? Do we have any clues from the past that– – Well, you could probably better speak to the future.

– I could speculate. – It’s certainly happened in the past. – That it shutdown? – Yeah, major reorganization of ocean currents. – So maybe you can tell us what you think is happening, or might happen in the future. And then Maureen can tell us– – And then somebody else out there can come up with a very different answer. This is pure speculation in a sense. Three sides there. What really regulates– OK, what we’re talking about here is the overturning circulation. You saw that warm water on Rebecca’s slides going all the way up into the Arctic. That is part of the overturning circulation. That water is going all the way up there, and it’s getting cold and sinking, and coming out. So that’s the North Atlantic part of the overturn. That progression of warm water up there is important in keeping passages open. It’s part of the Western European warming. That part– OK, that’s one part. And the Southern Ocean is the other cold part of the world, is isolated by the circumpolar current.

And we have a lot of ice formation right around Antarctica. It makes very dense water that goes to the bottom. So we have these two sources. We have one northern hemisphere, high latitude source that does not make deep water, which is the Pacific Ocean. And it’s our current experiment in how salt, or lack of salt, shuts down overturn. So the contrast between the Pacific and the Atlantic is the Pacific has a lot of rain and is very fresh, and the Atlantic has a lot of evaporation so it’s salty. So you put these two things at both ends of your table and you say, which one wins if you cool them both to freezing? Oh, the salty water will get dense and the fresh water will just float on that salty dense water. So that’s the simple picture set up by [? Stommel ?] and earlier, a long time ago, we have these two ends. And that balance only changes overall when you move the continents. That’s tectonics. So then the question is, what’s the vigor of those two overturns? The Pacific one is weak, it’s shallow. The Atlantic one is 10 times stronger and goes to the ocean bottom.

The question is if you add a lot of fresh water from all this melting ice on top of the North Atlantic, does it shut that circulation down, and then change the amount of warm water moving north? And so we had hints that all this fresh water was starting to weaken things a decade or two ago. The Northern North Atlantic was relentlessly freshening. But it turned around. And some of us went, ha ha. The circulation finally caught up. All that extra evaporation down off of here, off of the Gulf Stream over to Europe and Africa, the extra evaporation makes salty water that got pulled north and helped keep that cranking. So my speculation is that, yeah, the whole thing warms up. It becomes more stratified. You’re dumping more fresh water in the north, but you’re also pushing all this salty water in.

So you’ve got to have a balance. And I don’t know which way the balance will go in the next 100 years. You need to run a lot of models to do that. Maybe some of you have done that already. – OK, thank you. I’m going to pass it to the audience, because we have quite some questions. So please say your name and introduce yourself. – My name’s John Wigglesworth and I’m a secondary school Earth science teacher. And I spent a semester teaching about oceans and climate. And I wondered if you had any thoughts on how to give your message in a way that gives young kids some hope. [LAUGHTER] It’s something that I deal with all the time working with eighth graders and juniors in high school. And it’s a pretty sobering message. And how do you do it that gives people a sense of hope? – I’m happy to try to answer that.

So I’m actually extremely optimistic, even though it’s a very pessimistic message, just because I firmly believe that the limits of– there is no limit to human creativity and our ability to engineer our way out of this. But it has to start with the acknowledgement of the problem and an effort to reduce CO2 emissions. So I’m not sure, but I think people have to be empowered by knowledge of the problem and want to solve it. – So I would add to that– I struggle with this too. I teach a class on the Arctic. And you come to the end, you think, how can I end on some positive note? And I think it’s to remember in that that we do have the ability to change this. Right? If we go out there and see, we’re going to throw all the money that we’re putting into making ourselves rich into solving this problem, we can do it. Perhaps the most positive thing I saw in this was somebody said, right, I know seven technologies that could chip away at a seventh of this problem, of the CO2 problem.

But we have to teach the people that this is happening, that we have to face up to it, like we teach people to face up to problems in life. And go in and do it, and find on the way some way of predicting and mitigating it. So it’s their future. And I hope we can get them to grasp it and do something about it. And not just blame it all on our watch. – And I think something we can add is that there have been other problems for which there was no political will in the past, but when public opinion changed, political will came about. So I think there’s hope for that too. – So take the CFC ban. We managed to ban CFCs, because that was a science problem. So we can do it. We just have to team together and actually do it. – OK.

So the next question. We’re going to have to be a little quick because we have five minutes. – I’m Christina Hernandez. I’m a graduate student in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography. And I had a question for Rebecca about sort of ice edge blooms and the effect of melt ponds on under ice blooms. And so I was wondering if ocean color changes, whether those blooms happen under the ice during melt ponds or at the edges, if that contributes at all to these positive feedbacks that melt the ice. Like do you know anything about [INAUDIBLE]? – So this is really cool. So the idea is if you’re going to have a phytoplankton bloom in the ocean, you need to have nutrients, stratification, and light. If we get melt ponds in the ice, we get windows in the ocean which are allowing light to come into under the ice regions, which we always thought were devoid of life until the ice had melted. We’re finding there are those blooms in some places.

Quite why, we don’t know. We think because of the melt ponds, have they always been there? We don’t know. What is the feedback then from that phytoplankton trapping more energy into the ocean? Some– don’t quite know. We’re kind of working on that. Amala and I are working on that at the minute. So we can talk off line. That’s really exciting. – My name is Tim Johnson and I’m a software engineer. And I have one, I guess, a futuristic kind of question, in that it sounds like we’re heading for sort of an alien world. We don’t have to travel to another planet to find an alien world. We’re going to get one right here. I met that somebody was from Kuwait, and he said it’s 140 degrees Fahrenheit there and it’s getting hotter. And to me, that seems pretty alien. And it seems to me that we almost can’t stop what you’re describing. Even if we became much more politically active and the Republicans suddenly became totally different, we’re still not going to change very fast. Even if they changed it tomorrow, passing legislation, changing things.

And so it seems to me we have almost a whole new area of science of how to deal with the fact when the world is going to change over the next century, because it really is. Is this sort of something people are thinking about, like most businesses are looking how to make money? Like you can have tours taking you through the Northwest Passage which didn’t exist before. But it seems like a sort of a big area. I suppose it’s a way to make a lot of money for some. That may encourage some Republicans to do it. – There is a big burgeoning of renewable energy. And you can see it around the world. And Europe is just going bonk– it’s great. It’s the future. And the US is going that direction too, slowly. There’s a whole area of adaptation and engineering that is very active. So encourage your students to go and work in that. But don’t eliminate the basic science, as the Australian government did for a brief period the last year.

They said oh, we know the answer. Climate is changing. We don’t need you guys anymore. Let’s put all our money into making some money on adaptation and engineering. And there was a big kerfuffle, because when you have cancer you don’t stop taking your temperature because you know you have cancer. So we have to have both legs of that. We don’t represent that end here, but maybe some other people can speak to that. It’s very active. There are some geoengineering ideas out there– scrubbing the atmosphere, clean up your mess. – So if I could just add to that. Portugal, I think, ran entirely on renewable energy for a period of time this last summer. OK? So it can be done. We just have to decide we don’t just want money, we want a world for our children, as they say. – OK, thank you very much. Thank you all for being here.

And of course, John. – Thanks to the panel. [APPLAUSE] And I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank Amala. She helped consult as we were developing this program, and was extremely helpful to shape it. So you deserve a lot of credit for this. [MUSIC PLAYING] .

Climate Change in the Marshall Islands

>>Jennifer Newell (assistant curator, Division of Anthropology): The culture of the Marshall Islands is a very community based, supportive, warm kind of culture. When there's a disaster or a long-term drought, you know that your neighbors will look after you, you know that your family, wherever they are, will look after you. And there's also a lot of pride in history of being the finest navigators in the world, in being the people who are able to navigate things of all sorts. The sorts of disasters we can't even imagine. The nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands was something that is hard to imagine any community having to deal with, and then now the new adversity that they're having to deal with is climate change. Climate change is an important topic for island communities because it is an existential problem for Pacific Islanders. Many islanders are going to be losing their homes. They've only got small islands a lot of the time.

For the 2016 Niarchos expedition that I was able to work on, I really wanted to look into a place where there was very obvious effects of climate change, where people are responding to it in really effective ways, at all levels, and use it as an example of how a Pacific Island is responding to climate change. The Marshall Islands were selected because I had already been learning about the Marshall Islands a lot for a number of years through my work with one of my research collaborators here in New York, Tina Stege, who's a Marshall Islander, who's worked a lot on all these issues, both in the Marshalls and here. >>Tina Stege (International Liason, Marshallese Educational Initiative): There's this narrative about the Pacific, that climate change, is like this huge wave, it's coming, it's crashing down on us – and people there are just unable to do anything. And that wasn't the story that I knew. And I wanted to make sure that that story, that people were out there, active, trying to find solutions – there's that story.

And that's why we went to the Marshall Islands. We went to the capital, which is Majuro, and then we also went to a more rural environment, and that place was called Namdrik. >>Newell: We were interviewing people using semi-structured interviews, so we had a list of questions which each of us who was interviewing would be using. When we're asking people, "Do the fish come at the same time they always used to? Are you getting as many fish as before?" and people would always have something they'd notice, like "Oh yes, there's a certain type of fish that doesn't come anymore, at all," or "these ones come a bit later," and everything's becoming a little bit more unpredictable. >>Stege: Nearly everyone had seen the effects of a changing climate. Houses that used to be ten feet from the shore are literally right next to the water.

They would mention flooding, and how it just didn't used to happen with that kind of frequency. They literally had just finished coming out a drought, so that was uppermost on everyone's minds. One of the main things that came across when we were asking people questions like, "How did you get through the drought?" They'd say "Well when I didn't have any more water in my catchment, I went to my neighbor, and they provided water for me." There's a Marshallese concept that we call "lale doon" – to take care of one another. It's one of the most important aspects of our culture, and we need to continue to nurture that if we're going to be able to be resilient in the way we've been for so many generations. >>Newell: The hub of Marshallese culture, which is this togetherness, looking after each other, is what gives them their greatest resilience.

I see resilience as being the capacity to adjust in the face of challenges, and it's things like their capacity to travel well, to migrate effectively, to be able to stay in touch with family and their land. The extent to which a particular community is able to work together is what really determined their capacity to deal with climate change. That's a factor that we all need to really think through, and make sure that you do build those networks with your immediate community, with your, with your neighbors. We need to have at all those different levels – local level, national level, international level – much more understanding about what people need and how to get support to the people who need it. >>Stege: What does the future look like? I'm not sure. We're wondering if we'll be able to stay, and if so how long. We're wondering if we have to leave, where we would go. To know where you want to go, you have to come from a place of strength and of being centered.

And the islands have done that for us..

Ocean Temperatures – Changing Planet

The world’s oceans cover more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface. Millions of creatures, great and small, call the oceans home. These massive bodies of water play a crucial role in maintaining the planet’s delicate environmental balance, from supporting a complex food chain, to affecting global weather patterns. But rising air temperatures are warming the oceans and bringing dramatic impacts felt around the globe. Dr. TONY KNAP (Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences): One of the things warming does in, say areas off the United States, it creates a much bigger pool of warm water in the surface of the ocean that lends a huge amount of energy to hurricanes and tropical cyclones. THOMPSON: Dr. Tony Knap is the director of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, or BIOS. Famous for its luxurious golf courses and pink sand beaches, Bermuda is also home to one of the world’s leading institutes for ocean studies, with a focus on water temperatures.

KNAP: Here off Bermuda, we have probably a better view of it then many other people are going to have over time. THOMPSON: Bermuda is located over 600 miles, or almost 1,000 kilometers, from the coast of North Carolina, in an area of the Atlantic Ocean called the Sargasso Sea. KNAP: We like to think of the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic as the canary in the coalmine. It’s the smallest ocean, it’s between North America and Europe and we think if we are going to see changes, we will see them first here in the ocean off Bermuda. THOMPSON: Scientists at BIOS have been measuring the temperature of the ocean since 1954, making it one of the world’s longest ongoing studies of ocean data. KNAP: Well you measure the temperature of the ocean in many ways. In the old days you used to do it with buckets and thermometers. Now you use sophisticated instruments called conductivity, temperature and depth recorders. THOMPSON: These recorders, called CTDs, are large measuring instruments lowered deep into the water at specific locations in the ocean. On this day, Knap and his team are headed to “Station S.

” QUENTIN LEWIS, Jr. (Captain, R/V Atlantic Explorer): The weather is not going to be our friend today, unfortunately. The winds out of the west, it’s 35-40 and some higher gusts. The seas are anywhere from 14 to 16 feet or higher. THOMPSON: Lowered to a depth of three kilometers, or just under two miles, the CTD records temperature, salinity, carbon dioxide levels, and captures water samples. KNAP: This is a screen for the output on the CTD. The temperature will be in red, blue is salinity or the saltiness, and yellow is the oxygen content. THOMPSON: At BIOS, all of the data is then carefully logged and analyzed. Dr. NICK BATES (Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences): With this instrument we can see changes that happen over the season, over the year. And then from year to year.

THOMPSON: Using ocean temperature data going back several decades, BIOS research can trace the warming trend. In the past 56 years, it has risen half a degree Celsius. KNAP: Since 1954 we’ve seen, on average, the temperature increasing by a small amount, an equivalent to what is really a half a watt per year which is, doesn’t seem like a lot but over the whole of the ocean, it’s a lot. THOMPSON: What’s a half a watt? KNAP: It’s not much. It’s about a 100th of a degree per year. It’s not a lot. THOMPSON: But that small a difference can make, have a huge impact? KNAP: Yeah. THOMPSON: Really? KNAP: Yeah, because it’s going on every year. You think about how big the ocean is, and how deep it is, and how much energy it has, I mean it’s a tremendous source of heat. THOMPSON: So where is that warming coming from? KNAP: The warming we believe is to due to changes in CO2 in the atmosphere, the atmosphere getting warmer and the surface of the ocean getting warmer.

And that transfer of heat is being made into the ocean. THOMPSON: So what is the impact of a warmer ocean? The rising temperature causes the ocean to expand, and raises sea levels. KNAP: The tides going up by 3.2 millimeters a year. Half of that is attributed to the ocean warming down to 700 meters. The oceans on average 4,000 meters deep so it has a lot more to expand. THOMPSON: Warming temperatures also impact the growth rates of certain organisms at the very bottom of the ocean food chain, like phytoplankton. And so if you see changes in phytoplankton, does that mean that we are going to see changes in the food chain at the ocean? KNAP: If the organisms that eat those organisms, OK, eat the plankton, for example, can’t eat those plankton, then yes you’ll see changes. THOMPSON: And the small changes being recorded could bring even stronger storms.

This report published in 2005 in Science Magazine shows the gradual rise of the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes over recent years. An increase in storm intensity like this many scientists believe is the result of the warming of the oceans. KNAP: You think about how big the ocean is, and how deep it is, and how much energy it has. Even if you look at difference in hurricanes intensity, etc., one, one and a half degree centigrade in the water column of one hundred meters makes a massive amount of difference. THOMPSON: Small changes with big consequences for the creatures in the sea and all the people who live along the coasts..