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🔬 "What We Know About Oceans & Climate Change"

Columbia Energy Exchange

Photo by frank mckenna / Unsplash

Host: Bill Loveless
Guest: Peter de Menocal | President & Director | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Category: 🔬 Research

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[8:41] “I use ocean sediments as a way to reconstruct past changes in Earth's climate. […] The oceans cover about two thirds of the planet and all of the oceans are overlain with blankets of sediment that have accumulated over millions, tens, even up to 100 million years of accumulation over time. And what's really the reason for working on deep sea sediments […] is that they give you this complete and continuous record of past ocean and climate change going back for that period of time. So if you wanted a complete encyclopedia of Earth’s climate or Earth’s history, you turn to the oceans. […] You can reconstruct past changes and carbon dioxide levels going back millions of years. […] You can just ask these really fundamental questions of the climate system.”

[16:35] “The oceans are vastly underexplored. We know so much more about Venus, and Mars, and the Moon, than we do about our own oceans. Only about 20% of the ocean is actually mapped. […] And that's just the topography of the ocean. Actually how the ocean functions and contributes to the planet, we're really just beginning to learn.”

[17:08] “One thing to […] keep in mind for everyone is when everyone's talking about climate change, they're really talking about ocean change. […] The oceans are climate and climate is the oceans. Every drop of precipitable water comes from the oceans. The heat waves that we experienced are rooted in the oceans. The strength of hurricanes is driven by how warm the oceans are. And that's one of the things that most people don't realize that the essence of living, crops, water access, the security of your home, the security of coastal urban cities, all of these things are fundamentally tied to a healthy ocean. And the oceans are indeed changing.”

[19:21] “One of the ways in which the oceans do us a huge favor, is that they take up about 1/3 of every unit of carbon that we put into the atmosphere from human emissions. And so one of the things that [we are] looking into are ways in which that process can be augmented artificially or to be enhanced to stimulate a greater uptake of carbon by the ocean.”

[20:39] “The oceans have 40 times more carbon in them than the atmosphere does. That is […] this massive reservoir, what we call exchangeable carbon. […] The ocean really controls the atmospheric carbon dioxide level. […] And so what is happening now in the ocean research domain, is a real acceleration of this research to understand how the ocean takes up this carbon, where it goes in the oceans and how long it lasts there.”

[23:14] “Scientists can't estimate the amount of carbon passing through a level in the ocean.”

[23:46] “One of the ways in which the ocean can take up carbon, where you can stimulate what's called primary productivity algal growth in the surface of the ocean, is by adding some kind of a nutrient to the ocean. So iron […] is a micronutrient. You need very small amounts of iron to stimulate a lot of biologic productivity. And this is one approach that's been tried well over a dozen times now, not at scale, but as experiments and and it works.”

Rating: 💧💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 45 min | 🗓️ 02/01/2022
✅ Time saved: 43 min

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