Technical Measurement, Control, and Forecasting of Climate Change

Technical Measurement, Control, and Forecasting of Climate Change

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8401-8.ch004


Ocean warming and acidification are recognized as two major anthropogenic perturbations of today's oceans. This has resulted in a number of serious problems including acidification, coral bleaching, and sea level rise. An enormous amount of scientific effort is currently being applied to understanding, monitoring, and testing solutions to these problems such as seeding the oceans with minerals to encourage plankton growth and thereby sequester carbon. The story in this chapter, “The Fid,” is about using art and games to engage people in facing major problems by educating them and building up their determination to address the ocean's problems. It is the first story in a new series, “Iron Seas.”
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Topics For Discussion

The following discussion points come from information covered in this chapter:

  • 1.

    If the oceans are seeded with the right minerals, plankton will show explosive growth. That could sequester carbon, but not enough is known to be sure more good than harm will be done. Should this approach even be tried? How could it be monitored?

  • 2.

    How might marine phytoplankton respond via evolutionary change? What could bo wrong?

  • 3.

    Can art be used to educate? Can technical people team with artistic people?

  • 4.

    If a game is made from a serious problem, is the result likely to be positive? Can people learn through playing a game?



Ocean warming and acidification are recognized as two major anthropogenic perturbations of today’s oceans. The observed changes in Emiliania huxleyi, calcite and biomass production, cell size and elemental composition demonstrate the importance of evolutionary processes for phytoplankton performance in a future ocean (Meier K. J. S. et al. 2014).

Emiliania huxleyi [Ehux] or Coccolithophores are unicellular algae belonging to the division [or phylum] Haptophyta, characterized by a spherical coating exoskeleton made of calcium carbonate flakes that reflect light, called coccoliths, and arranged around them in a spherical structure (Berger, C et al., 2014).

The coccoliths were first observed by Cristian Gottfried Ehrenberg [1795-1875], who considered them to be inorganic products and were instead identified as produced by living organisms by Thomas Henry Huxley, who gave them the name and understood that they are the major constituents of the carbonate mud and the resulting rocks [limestone] (Fabry V.J., 2003).

They are among the main constituents of limestone deposits such as those that make up the white cliffs of Dover, in the south of Great Britain, overlooking the English Channel and the geologically twin of these in Calais [France].

The effect of the Coccolithophore on the environment is rather complex. They do not normally prove to be harmful to the life of other organisms in the ocean. Indeed, in nutrient-poor areas, Coccolithophores are a source of nutrition for much small fish and zooplankton that eat other phytoplankton organisms. However, when the Coccolithophores are present in large numbers they can, unfortunately, block the gills of the fish.

Furthermore, the chemical reaction that leads to the formation of coccoliths also generates a molecule of carbon dioxide, a very powerful greenhouse gas from oxygen and carbon already present in the ocean.

There are several ways the Coccolitophores influence local and global temperature:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Climate Change: A term used instead of global warming. Indicates the change in the Earth's climate. This change is largely attributed to emissions in the Earth's atmosphere of increasing quantities of greenhouse gases (with a consequential increase in the greenhouse effect).

Fid: A tool used a device used by sailors to splice ropes. It is a metal spike with a wooden handle.

Buy-In: Buy-in is a mental state of human beings where the person experiences an idea from their leadership, envisions themselves succeeding with the idea, gets into action, and stays in action for a long time. Buy-in is the human mental state that built the Great Pyramids, built the Gothic Cathedrals, and launched Apollo to the Moon.

Virtual Reality: Entails presenting our senses with a computer-generated virtual environment that we can explore in some fashion. This could, of course, mean anything but it usually refers to a specific type of reality emulation.

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