Hofstra University : GEOL140: Paleoclimatology VOL. 21 doi:1029/2011GEOL1406873, 2011Proposing the use of a global probe b...
you put in your car. The rich mixture of oxygen      into the atmosphere, oxidizes to form a sulfateand hydrocarbons is ak...
observed in the oceans. It is also likely that the          Once the DMSP is in the water, there areaction of grazing zoop...
This would reduce the supply of nutrients that up        energy back as outgoing long-wave (infrared)well from the deep. T...
understanding of this feedback process in the                      There will be an onboard computer withCLAW hypothesis r...
the United States navy, and the customizability         one phenomenon out of the trillions that exist onnecessary for suc...
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Proposing the use of a global probe based network of durable marine “laboratories” to quantify the global flux of dimethylsulfide across the sea/air interface


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This was my final project for my sedimentary geology class. The task was to come up with an original research project that was based on a topic relevant to the environment.

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Proposing the use of a global probe based network of durable marine “laboratories” to quantify the global flux of dimethylsulfide across the sea/air interface

  1. 1. Hofstra University : GEOL140: Paleoclimatology VOL. 21 doi:1029/2011GEOL1406873, 2011Proposing the use of a global probe based network of durablemarine “laboratories” to quantify the global flux ofdimethylsulfide across the sea/air interfaceS. LeoneAAHofstra University Geology Department, Hempstead New York, USA Abstract As it stands now there are <1500 quality scientific papers written regarding the CLAW hypothesis, many of which confirm the hypothesis. The hypothesis was conceived by four scientists: R.J. Charlson, J. E. Lovelock, M. O. Andreae & S. G. Warren in a 1987 paper in Nature. The four last names of the scientists make the acronym CLAW. This hypothesis provides a fascinating concept that there is a complex interaction between marine organisms and the atmosphere that work together to oppose change in a particular system through a series of feedback loops. Phytoplankton in the ocean produces dymethylsulfide and dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMS/DMSP). These substances act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). When there is an input of sunlight and an output of excessive phytoplankton, the DMS/DMSP is released into the atmosphere and facilitates the formation of clouds. The clouds increase albedo and cool the system. There is currently no consistent and unified global network of sensors to provide real time data regarding the production of DMS/DMSP. Most of the data collected regarding the concentrations and production of DMS/DMSP are from the Global Surface Sea water DMS database (http://saga.pmel.noaa.gov/dms), other databases, satellite information, and measurements made by individual researchers. The current collection of data is fairly accurate and is fit to be used in scientific writing. The general consensus though among climate scientists specializing in research pertaining to CLAW is that there needs to be a better data collection protocol and it needs to be implemented in a way that will facilitate quick and accurate data collection. For this reason I propose that there be a global network of renewably powered, remotely controlled “DMS laboratories” present in the ocean. The probes will utilize CalTech’s “lab on a chip” technology to gain accurate real-time data that will quantify the seawater DMS/DMSP distribution and its global flux across the sea/air interface. Background attacked his views. The Gaia hypothesis is a fairly controversial theory and its main critics Other planets in this solar system may purport that it verges on being a quasi religious have cores, and low-density atmospheres, but to belief and that it did not follow the reductionist the best of our knowledge, Earth is the only approach of modern science. Over the past 20 planet that demonstrates such complex years the theory has begun to gain much wider interactions between the living organisms and acceptance among the scientific community their inorganic surroundings. This complex (Spowers 2000). Too lovelock though, it made interaction creates sets of self-regulating perfect sense, especially in light of the fact that phenomenon that sustain the life on Earth. he worked with NASA to find life on other Similar beliefs have been held by various planets. The stark contrast drawn between the indigenous cultures around the world throughout surface of planets like Venus and Mars history. The first western scientific model to compared to the surface of the earth allowed him describe this phenomenon was suggested by to realize just how incredible and unique our James Lovelock. His theory that identifies and planet actually is. attempts to quantify this global phenomenon is In a 2000 interview, Lovelock states that known as the Gaia Hypothesis (GH). other planets seemed to be in a state of Lovelock’s theory was inspired by his work with equilibrium. The atmospheres of planets like NASA developing technology to detect life on Mars and Venus are composed entirely of other planets. When he published his first paper carbon dioxide. This indicates a lifeless state. on the topic in 1979, the scientific community Lovelock compares earths atmosphere to the gas
  2. 2. you put in your car. The rich mixture of oxygen into the atmosphere, oxidizes to form a sulfateand hydrocarbons is akin to the fuel going into aerosol. This substance acts as a CCN. Thethe intake manifold of a motor vehicle. The reflectance or albedo of clouds is responsive toatmosphere on Mars though is composed of CCN density. Thus in turn the earth’s radiationgasses akin to the exhaust of a car. From this he budget is sensitive to the presence of DMS duebelieves life on mars and Venus exhausted itself to its impact on cloud formation. Regulation of(Spowers 2000). This lead to the conclusion that the climate can be achieved by the feedback thatthe onset of global warming is a huge problem, occurs through the effects of temperature andin fact, in Lovelock’s opinion everything else is sunlight on the populations of phytoplanktonsecondary to the problems of rising levels of and the production of DMS.greenhouse gasses. He asserts that we are now Oceanic phytoplankton, if pushed toin a state of “positive feedback” and that instead either extreme of their tolerance levels i.e. tooof mitigating the harm that is being done, the hot and sunny or too cold and dim, will respondsystem is “actually increasing so that as it by varying their DMS emissions. This way theywarms, the systems are wiped out and the can increase or decrease the insolation hittingprocess speeds up.”(Spowers 2000). In essence, the ocean surface by influencing the marinetreating this planet as a machine has gotten cloud reflectivity. By doing this, phytoplanktonhumans into a lot of trouble. The Gaia effectively drive the system back towards theirhypothesis helps us to see that nature can indeed tolerance levels.be seen as sacred and that there is still a lot wedon’t know. What we do know, though, is thatit’s important to assess the factors contributingnot only to the Gaia hypothesis but the entireissue of climate change. Lovelock’s theory of Gaia is quite broad.One of the main terrestrial phenomenons thatLovelock and many others have studied in depththat contributes great insight into Gaia is the“CLAW Hypothesis.” The letters that spell theword “CLAW” are taken from the names of thescientists that wrote a 1987 article in Nature(Lovelock et. al. 1987). Before the CLAWhypothesis can be fully explored, it is importantto examine the role of clouds in the atmosphere.The way that clouds affect the warming andcooling of the earth is hard enough to quantify.Understanding the way that clouds affect thewarming and cooling of the earth in a warmingworld is an even bigger uncertainty. One of themain forcing on cloud properties is the existenceand concentration of a cloud condensation nuclei(CCN). A CCN is a tiny particle present in the (Ayers et. al. 2007)atmosphere that serves as a medium for thenucleation of a water droplet that makes up a DMS in the atmosphere comes from thecloud. ocean. When DMS is present in the ocean it is the The basis of the CLAW hypothesis is the direct result of biological activity.prospect that there are oceanic and atmospheric Dymethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is thesystems that are coupled in such a way that precursor compound to DMS. DMSP isopposes changes in climate. In the ocean there synthesized by phytoplankton and the amount ofare several thousand species of phytoplankton. DMSP present depends on the species ofThese phytoplankton produce a substance called phytoplankton present. So far, direct emission ofdimethylsulfide (DMS). DMS, once released DMS from phytoplankton has been observed in a laboratory setting. It has not, however, been 2
  3. 3. observed in the oceans. It is also likely that the Once the DMSP is in the water, there areaction of grazing zooplankton and viruses have an several processes that convert the substance intoaffect on the phytoplankton community that yields DMS. The complexity of the process is what issubstantial levels of DMSP in the water. It is important to note for the purposes of this paper.typical that the higher levels of DMSP and DMS The early work in understanding the processesusually correlate with the onset of a plankton was based in physics and utilized differentbloom. variables pertaining to wind speed, solubility of In light of the fact that there has been no DMS and other factors. Fully understanding thedirect observation of DMS/DMSP production in complexities of the sea-air interface, knowingphytoplankton in the oceans, it is important to what we already know poses a significantimplement a system that will allow real time challenge. A major difficulty in obtaining DMSquantification of the levels of DMS/DMSP, the measurements from the water is the wind speedpresence of viruses, the grazing zooplankton, the associated with oceans experiencing large blooms.temperature and sunlight concentration in a The safety of scientists and observation platformsparticular location. A. Lana et. al. in their 2011 is a main concern and so until Ayers et. al. inpaper utilized state of the art climatological 1995 determined certain micrometeorologicalrecords and interpolation/extrapolation techniques techniques to gain a better understanding of thisto carry out their research. They identified several flux. Still, the techniques are only predictionssignificant issues with the current state of the based on proxies of eddy accumulation and eddydatabases and individual measurements used for covariance.their research. There doesn’t seem to be anyquality control in the database and a lack of Motivation:unification of the DMS measurement protocol. The anthropogenic influence on the atmosphereThis is troubling to many for it retards any is predicted to lead to significant changes globalresearch attempts regarding oceanic DMS/DMSP climatic conditions. Roughly half of the current carbonconcentrations. dioxide emissions are being absorbed by the ocean and by land ecosystems. This absorption is sensitive to In addition to a lack of a unified measurement climate as well as to atmospheric carbon dioxideprotocol, the role of DMSP or DMS in plankton concentrations. This creates a feedback loop. (Cox et.physiology is still unclear (Ayers et. al. 2007). It al. 2000) The CLAW hypothesis though, has ais hypothesized that the conversion of DMSP to counterpart: the Anti-CLAW hypothesis. LovelockDMS may have something to do with relieving contends that the constituents of the CLAW hypothesisoxidative stress following exposure to UV will reverse from their current state of negative feedbackradiation, nutrient limitation, or changes in and wind up acting as a positive feedback loopsurface temperature. It has also been suggested (Lovelock 2007). Considering the evidence of increasedthat DMSP has osmoregulative properties or is a atmospheric carbon presented by Cox et.al. and the factcarrier in organic sulfur cycling. (S. M. Vallina that as of now, there is a predicted increase in globalet. al. 2007) temperature, it is likely that world oceans may The fact that the role of DMSP and DMS in stratify. (Lovelock 2007)plankton is unclear makes it difficult tounderstand how the emission of DMSP or DMSfrom plankton would change as the surface waterenvironment changed in response to climatechange. It would be important to know ifchanging certain oceanic conditions would alterthe plankton community in such a way that wouldpromote species of plankton that were higheremitters of DMSP or DMS. In addition it wouldbe of note to determine the extent to whichincreasing acidity would have on phytoplanktoncommunities and their emission of DMSP, fordeformed plankton have been observed. (Norris2003) 3
  4. 4. This would reduce the supply of nutrients that up energy back as outgoing long-wave (infrared)well from the deep. These nutrients are key for the radiation, also known as terrestrial radiation.proper functioning of phytoplankton in its euphotic Albedo is an important factor in the radiationzone. In a CLAW hypothesis reversal, this would balance, and clouds have the major effect onlead to a decline in phytoplankton activity and thus albedo. The optical properties of a cloud are a keyless DMS production. If there is less DMS present issue to understanding and therefore predictingin the atmosphere there will be less cloud global climate change. A clouds optical propertiesformation and so less albedo. The problem with are related to the size distribution and number of itsthis is that the lack of cloud cover will potentially droplets. The more cloud condensation nuclei, thelead to further climate warming. This in turn, will smaller the size of its water droplets and the highercontinue to reduce the global production of DMS. the density of water droplets since the same amount of water vapor is distributed among a greater number of CCN. This affects the radiative properties (reflectance, transmittance and absorbance) of the cloud. Because of the vast amount of atmosphere between the sea and space, there is a lot of room for cloud activity. When the clouds are low and thick, they act as shields, blocking and reflecting insolation into space. This in turn cools the planet. When clouds are high up, they can also trap the outgoing heat, which is in the form of longwave radiation. This warms the planet. On the whole, data suggests that clouds have a general net cooling effect on the planet (Norris 2003). Climate scientists have realized that current models had a poor ability to accurately reproduce the effect of clouds. For this reason, scientists have made it a priority to measure and understand more about clouds physical properties and radiative fluxes. Programs like CERES, and the IRI/LDEO Climate Data Library are observing clouds from space in order to more accurately quantify cloud properties and their respective effect on albedo. If a more accurate model of cloud physics can be expressed, scientists will be able to construct more accurate simulations of climate budget and projections of change. Based on what we have learned over the years in regard to the CLAW hypothesis, it is likely that DMS has an Having a global network of biosensors can influence on the global heat budget and thehelp keep scientists savvy to the changes occurring hydrological cycle due to its impact on cloudin real time. The radiation balance has a formation. In order to understand how any CLAWfundamental effect on Earths climate. About one related feedback mechanism (positive or negative)third of the solar radiation that reaches the Earth is between the plankton population and thereflected back into space by clouds and from earth atmosphere might operate, it is vital that thesurfaces, such as ice and snow. The atmosphere biological role of DMS/DMSP within the cells ofabsorbs some solar energy, but most of the other plankton is clarified. The reason for this is becausetwo thirds is absorbed by the land and oceans, the biological role of DMS/DMSP in plankton iswhich are warmed by the sunlight (Norris 2003). inextricably tied to how the feedback betweenThe suns energy is converted into heat, and the biology and atmosphere may respond toland and oceans then radiate a portion of this environmental changes. It seems that an 4
  5. 5. understanding of this feedback process in the There will be an onboard computer withCLAW hypothesis remains elusive (Ayers et. al. power efficient processors capable of dynamically2007). Being able to accurately quantify the adjusting their frequencies to reduce energyamount of DMS being produced in real time all consumption. These chips will likely be akin to theacross the globe will be a vital contribution to the A5 processing chips at the heart of Apple’s iPad’sclimate science community. and iPhones. Because accurate location Currently, some of the most recent quantification will be necessary, the units will beresearch in the field has come from data contained equipped with onboard GPS chips in order toin the Global Surface Sea water DMS Database. convey precise global coordinates at any time.Simo et. Al. states that there is no quality control in The super computer used for this researchthe database. This was worth stressing because will be a Cray XT system. Similar systems havethere doesn’t seem to be unification of the DMS been installed at several operational meteorologicalmeasurement protocol, and very few and hydrological services and leading climateintercalibration exercises have been conducted in research centers worldwide. Examples include butthe last 30 years. Furthermore, a number of are not limited too, NOAA, NCAR, Koreasampling and analytical issues have been reported Meteorological Administration (KMA), Brazilianin recent years. For this reason it is important to National Institute for Space Research (INPE) andhave a definitive, reliable, and long lasting network Center for Weather Forecasts and Climate Studiesof instruments that provide real time analysis of the (CPTEC), Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI),DMS/DMSP sea and air measurements. This will and the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Officehelp to assess health of the planet based on the (NAVO). (Nyberg 2010)progression of cloud formation and earths radiation In order for the unit to be able tobalance. In addition it will continue to support communicate with the central data collection serverJames Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. it will utilize very low frequency (VLF) transmission to land based towers, which will then Proposal for new research be able to route the data to a server linked to a Using modified “lab on a chip” technology super computer to analyze the collected data. Thedeveloped by CalTech (Liu et. al. 2009) to reason VLF transmissions were chosen as theeffectively create a network of interconnected, transmission medium is because they are oftencentrally linked “microlabs” to measure levels of used in Integrated Communication Systems (ICS)DMS and DMSP in phytoplankton on a global for naval vessels and HF ground-to-airscale. The labs will be encapsulated in a specific applications. The technology will likely come fromvessel designed for durability and ease of Hagenuk Marinekommunikation (HMK). Themaintenance and potential retrofitting. The vessel company has provided solutions for more than 25will also be equipped with a propulsion system, navies throughout the world who now rely on thewhich draws energy from solar power, tidal high level of technical expertise of HMK. Overcurrents, or both. The unit will not only be able to 540 systems have been delivered for all classes ofrun real time collection and transmission of DMS ships, including 117 submarine systems.and DMSP data, it will be able to determine the Moreover, HMK provides a full service packageeffects of CO2 concentrations, sunlight, grazing including feasibility studies, system engineering,zooplankton, temperature and viral lysis on the hardware and software design, production, systemproduction, dissemination and oxidation of DMS integration and setting to work as well asand DMSP. integrated logistics combined with comprehensive In order to accomplish this, the unit will be after sales services over the whole product lifeequipped with several sensors, including but not cycle. Lastly, the technology that allows userlimited too, a PH sensor, a thermometer, a interface with the VLF system can be a singlephotometer, a salt refractometer, a current speed workstation that is expandable to a networkingsensor, and a heavy metal sensor. The unit will multi-console client/server configuration that,also be able to rise to the surface and extend a according to the contractor, provides sophisticatedprobe into the atmosphere in order to collect data automated communications support for navalregarding the concentrations of DMS/DMSP in the applications. The solutions offered by HMKair directly above a particular system. posses the reliability of a company providing for 5
  6. 6. the United States navy, and the customizability one phenomenon out of the trillions that exist onnecessary for such a specific application. this planet, it is a step in the right direction. The communication ability of the units will boast two way transmission capabilities for References the obvious purpose of relaying collected information back to the server, and the less "Hagenuk Marinekommunikation - Naval VLF and SHF Radio obvious ability to receive remote course and Equipment." Naval Technology. Hagenuk Marinekommunikation. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.<http://www.naval- speed commands from a controlling computer. technology.com/contractors/navigation/hagenuk/>. This system would ideally be composed of several hundred of these units to create a global Greg p. Ayers, Jill M. Cainey (2007) “The CLAW hypothesis: a review of network. Ideally a climate scientist would be the major developments”, Research Front, 4, 366-374 able to identify one singular, or several units in Lana, A, G Bell, R Simo, M Vallina, and L Bopp 2011"An updated one of the many strategically placed locations climatology of surface dimethlysulfide concentrations and and have full control over the device(s). This emission fluxes in the global ocean” Global Biogeochemical will allow for a level of accurate, real time Cycles. 25. 1-17. climatic data collection never before achieved. Lovelock, James (2007). The Revenge of Gaia. Penguin. The reason each unit has its own ISBN 0141025972. propulsion system, whether it be a set of Mike Liu et. al. (2009) “Field Operational Sensor and Lab-on-a-Chip propellers or a series of pumps and jets is so the System for Marine Environmental Monitoring and Analysis” units can maintain one fixed position in the sea, CENS 1-3 or move about the sea for however long a certain Norris, Katina B. "Dimethylsulfide Emission: Climate Control by Marine experiment or research project dictates. Algae." CSA. ProQuest, Nov. 2003. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. An example of the novel application of <http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/dimethyl/overview.php>. this technology is the fact that so far there is no Per Nyberg (2010) “Cray Supercomputers in Climate”, Weather and system of interconnected, un-tethered, real time Ocean Modeling Cray 1-6 data collecting mechanisms of this scale. There Peter M. Cox, Richard A. Betts, Chris D. Jones, Steven A. Spall, & Ian J. have been global collaborations of many Totterdell (2000) “Acceleration of global warming due to different scientists and instrumental records, but carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model” Nature, 408, 184-187 the ingenuity behind this concept is to have one place for scientists to go to analyze the real time R. J. Charlson, J. E. Lovelock, M. O. Andreae & S. G. Warren (1987) data of the DMS/DMSP concentrations and a “Oceanic phytoplankton, atmospheric sulphur, cloud albedo and climate”, Nature, 326: 655-661 other measurable factors in the marine climate system. The information can easily be archived Rory Spowers (2000) “Interview: Living Planet” Geographical 25-27 and made public for all scientists and individuals S.M. Vallina, R. Simo, S. Gasso, C. de Boyer-Montegut et. al. (2007) who may not have the means to get to the “Analysis of a potential “solar radiation dose-dimethylsulfide- supercomputer that all the units are linked to. cloud condensation nuclei” link from globally mapped seasonal correlations” Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 21, 1-16 Furthermore, the main goal of this global network is to have the ability to monitor the Vallina, M, and R Simo. "What controls CCN seasonality in the Southern health of the planet. The possibility of the Ocean? A statistical analysis based on satellite-derived chlorophyll and CCN and model-estimated OH radical and oceanic feedback loop reversing and creating rainfall." Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 20. 1-13. another system that subjects this planet to unnecessary temperature increases is very real. James Lovelock is not the only scientist who is concerned with the future of our climate system. Although any scientist knows that the planet will survive long after humans are extinct, the focus of preventing climate change is to ensure the prosperity of humans and all other organic life alike. It is not farfetched that at some point the earth may shrug humans off its proverbial shoulder. This is why this proposal is so important. Although it is serving to quantify but 6