20 June 2024
In mighty Atlantic Ocean

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A coalition of international scientists is diving into the Atlantic’s vast waters to confront the looming perils threatening its hidden ecosystems.

Well, isn’t this a fascinating look into the deep blue sea! The Atlantic Ocean, a vast expanse of water that’s more than just a pretty view from the beach. It’s like a bustling city for marine life, complete with its own traffic system, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC. Think of AMOC as the ocean’s conveyor belt, moving heat around and keeping Europe from turning into a popsicle. But like any city, the Atlantic has its share of problems, and that’s where our story begins.



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Imagine, years ago, vibrant coral gardens under the sea, teeming with life. Now, picture those same corals turned to rubble, thanks to bottom trawling. That’s a fishing method where heavy nets scrape the ocean floor, and it’s like bulldozing a forest to catch a few birds. Not a great deal for the corals, right? But here’s where the plot thickens — and gets a bit hopeful.

A team of superhero scientists from around the globe, under the banner of iAtlantic, are on a mission to save our oceanic neighborhoods. They’re mapping out the important spots, like the Sargasso Sea, which is like the ocean’s version of an international airport for sea creatures. Then there’s the Romanche Fracture Zone, deeper than the Grand Canyon, and a chain of underwater mountains off Brazil — all places with secrets we’re just starting to understand.

These researchers are doing some pretty cool experiments, like the one where they pumped algae into a patch of ocean floor to see how it travels through the food chain. It’s kind of like adding a drop of dye to water to see how it swirls around, but with algae and a lot more science. And guess what? They found out that if the planet keeps warming up, the ocean floor might not be able to store as much carbon. That’s a big deal because the ocean is like Earth’s storage unit for carbon dioxide, and we need all the space we can get to help keep our atmosphere in check.

But here’s something that’ll make you smile: humpback whales are making a comeback! Thanks to a whale enthusiast’s dedication to tail-spotting in Bermuda, we’ve learned that these giant singers of the sea are bouncing back after we humans agreed to stop hunting them. It’s like nature’s way of saying, “Give me a break, and I’ll show you what I can do!”

Now, let’s talk about the ocean’s circulation issue. If AMOC slows down too much, we could see big changes in the weather and sea life distribution. It’s like if the city’s traffic lights went haywire — everything would get a bit chaotic. To keep an eye on this, scientists are using moorings, which are like underwater weather stations, to keep track of what’s happening with currents and oxygen levels.

But the best part? Everyone’s getting involved. Local and indigenous knowledge is being tapped into because, let’s face it, the folks who live by the ocean know a thing or two. Fishermen are even using apps to report data on their catches, proving that high-tech solutions don’t always need to be high-cost.

As these projects wrap up, the data they’ve collected is like a treasure trove for ocean science. It’s going to keep researchers busy for years, figuring out how to protect our blue planet. And you know what? With all this international teamwork, it’s a reminder that no matter where we live, we’re all connected by the ocean. So let’s take care of it, because a healthy ocean means a healthy planet, and that’s good news for everyone — fish, whales, corals, and yes, even us humans.

SOURCE: In mighty Atlantic Ocean, ecosystem wonders and threats lie below the surface

https://phys.org/news/2023-12-mighty-atlantic-ocean-ecosystem-threats.html

FAQ’s

1. What is the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)?

The AMOC is the ocean’s conveyor belt system that moves heat around and plays a crucial role in regulating Europe’s climate.

2. What is bottom trawling and how does it affect coral reefs?

Bottom trawling is a fishing method that involves heavy nets scraping the ocean floor. It can cause significant damage to coral reefs, turning them into rubble.

3. What are some important spots being studied by the iAtlantic team?

The iAtlantic team is studying important areas like the Sargasso Sea, the Romanche Fracture Zone, and a chain of underwater mountains off Brazil to better understand their ecological significance.

4. How does ocean warming affect the ocean’s ability to store carbon dioxide?

Ocean warming may reduce the ocean floor’s capacity to store carbon dioxide, which is essential for regulating the Earth’s atmosphere.

5. How is local and indigenous knowledge being incorporated into ocean research?

Local and indigenous knowledge is being tapped into, as it provides valuable insights into the ocean ecosystem. Fishermen are even using apps to report data on their catches, contributing to scientific understanding.



Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Atlantic Ocean, Coral reef, Humpback whale

Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about 85,133,000 km2 (32,870,000 sq mi). It covers approximately 17% of Earth's surface and about 24% of its water surface area. During the Age of Discovery, it was known for separating the Old World of...
Read more: Atlantic Ocean

Coral reef
A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups. Coral belongs to the class Anthozoa in the animal phylum Cnidaria, which includes...
Read more: Coral reef

Humpback whale
The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a species of baleen whale. It is a rorqual (a member of the family Balaenopteridae) and is the only species in the genus Megaptera. Adults range in length from 14–17 m (46–56 ft) and weigh up to 40 metric tons (44 short tons). The...
Read more: Humpback whale

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