August 18, 2005
Today I occupied myself reading stimulating literature. I began with Oceanography, 6th edition, by M. Grant Gross. It was about the role of estuaries in our environment and the different types of estuaries. Of particular interest to me and my experience was the Atlantic estuaries and the rising sea levels along the Atlantic coast. It was interesting to note that as sea levels rise, the shorelines withstand the shifts, but seashore homes may not. Also seawater infiltrates rock strata and affects water supplies. Also there is a risk of flooding waste sites, which are traditionally located in low-lying areas.
The second book I read was Life in the Ocean. This was interesting because it explained better, the inverse relationship between dissolved oxygen and nutrients. Nutrient rich water leads to increased phytoplankton. This leads to increased photosynthesis and respiration, especially at lower levels where the bacteria (decomposers) reside. The decomposers form a "brown food web" on the ocean floor where there is little or no sunlight. The increased respiration can lead to hypoxic conditions. At depth, dissolved oxygen may be totally used up.
The third book I read today was Environmental Science 6th Ed. By Bernard Nebel and Richard Wright. This was about eutrophication, changes in the ecosystem that occur with nutrient enrichment. Phytoplankton blooms occur in nutrient rich water and obtain their nutrients from water. Benthic plants obtain their nutrients from soil.
The importance of wetlands to the ecosystem was also explained. Wetlands filter and remove nutrients. This limits phytoplankton growth and supports submerged aquatic plant growth by limiting phytoplankton and allowing light penetration. Benthic plants support a diverse aquatic ecosystem by providing food, habitat, and dissolved oxygen. Oxygen from the atmosphere is slow to mix through the water. In the absence of oxygen from submerged aquatic vegetation photosynthesis, consumers readily deplete the oxygen and suffocate all but the bacteria and organisms that can survive without oxygen.
All in all it was some pretty entertaining reading. In the afternoon I went to GSO and met Jill again. We talked about my research experience and she burned me a CD of downloads that I couldn't unzip on my computer. I also collected some teaching materials.
I said my good-byes and thanks for the experience, because I will be on the water all day tomorrow and leaving early Saturday morning.