“We all know we need oxygen to breathe. Where does the oxygen come from? From the trees and plants around us, sure. But this is only half of the story (or, half of the oxygen, in that case). The other half comes from tiny little algae everywhere in the ocean. As the “trees of the sea”, they produce just as much oxygen by photosynthesis as plants do on land. So remember: Every second breath you take is thanks to the tiny algae in the ocean!”
If your work was an animal, which one would it be and why? That’s what Sinikka answered for February’s scicommchall! She writes:
“My work is like an octopus: it…
… is changing its color from time to time,
… is tackling 8 different tasks simultaneously,
… and leaves behind a large amount of ink.”
New position, new topic: I am now studying carbon-containing molecules
in the ocean (“dissolved organic matter” or “DOM”). The December Scicomm
challenge comes handy to get to know my new topic from all sides.
For an observer at the beach, DOM might change the color of the water,
as it contains many molecules that absorb light.
For bacteria, it is a tasty meal.
Slightly larger (and much larger!) animals in the ocean excrete DOM.
For me as a scientist, it is an astonishing mixture of hundreds of
thousands of different molecules (and we’re still wondering why there is
so much DOM, when bacteria could just eat it all).
For the atmosphere, it is a great way to store carbon from fossil fuel
burning, so the carbon isn’t present as the greenhouse gas CO2 in the air.
For the climate, it is an important carbon reservoir, which potentially
was responsible for warm (little carbon stored in the ocean) and cold
(much carbon stored in the ocean) periods in the history of our planet.
Sinikka wrote a sky-ku haiku for October’s #scicommchall!
Sinikka explains: Clouds form if it is so cold that water vapour condensates to droplets. Little particles – so small you can’t see them – are often the base for water molecules to settle and form such a droplet. The particle is a so called cloud condensation nuclei. Sulfur gases emitted by the ocean can form particles that act in that way. This is one of the many ways the ocean influences weather and climate.
We are in for a real treat with Sinikka’s #scicommbookforkids for September’s #scicommchall! (Translation below the image)
Climate tickling your nose.
Taking a deep breath at the beach, you notice this smell: The smell of the sea. This typical smell are actually tiny amounts of sulfur gases you are breathing in!
Sulphurous algae grow in the sea. Sun light and other microscopically small algae contribute to their growth.
The gases are then released into the air, especially on windy days.
Besides creating the typical smell of the sea, sulphurous algae also do other things: Some help water droplets grow in the atmosphere. Clouds form and it starts to rain!
Others become tiny reflectors — aerosols — and reflect parts of the sun light back away from the Earth. This cools down the Earth a tiny little bit.
Sun and algae, wind and waves, clouds and rain, warm and cold — this is all contained in a nose full of sea air!
And here it is pre folding:
When will we see your #scicommbookforkids? 🙂
“I want to find out how the large body of water on our world is changing the warm and cold in the air around us. Some tiny parts of the air – so tiny you can’t see them – are formed in the water. When the wind makes little waves on top of the water, they leave the water and become part of the air that we breathe. Once in the air, they can make it cold or warm for us. I want to find out about some parts that make it cold: these parts go high up in the air, much higher than where the rain comes from. There they form a layer that makes part of the light of the sun turn around, so it does not hit us: It gets colder. But we do not know how much of that is coming out of the water, and we need to know that to know the cooling (or better: the not-so-strong-warming). I find out about that by going on water-cars and study little bits of water, and then sit in front of the computer for a long time. Even though these parts make the air colder, there are much much more parts that make it warmer – I think we should stop putting more of them in the air, if we still want our kids to build ice-men out of white rain with their kids.“