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UW / Oceanography / OCEAN 102 / What is the efficiency of OTEC?

What is the efficiency of OTEC?

What is the efficiency of OTEC?



What is the efficiency of OTEC?

A type of respiration that uses O2 to convert organic matter into cellular energy


The process by which light energy is converted into chemical energy

Done by phytoplankton in the oceans


● The oldest form of life, they are single cells ranging from 0.2-2mm in size

● Reproduce through binary fission and are the “decomposers” and “respirators” of

the food web

● Assist in nutrient cycling

● Can cause diseases

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) 

Produces energy by the temperature difference between warm surface waters and cold deep ocean ● Requires 20°C difference in temps

● Power plants create steam from

temperature difference, which moves

turbines to create energy

● Could potentially release CO2 from deep waters


An organism that feeds itself through energy conversion, such as photosynthesis; can form nutritional organic materials from inorganic materials, like CO2

What causes thermocline?

Can be:

● Bacteria

● Phytoplankton

● algae


An area where oxygen is present


Areas of no oxygen; caused by algae blooms that can be encouraged by eutrophication

mixed layer 

The top layer of the ocean where winds and ocean waves “mix” the water; its depth changes with the seasons (greater in winter, smaller in summer) Changes density, nutrients are mixed here; Holds as much heat as the atmosphere above it


Energy created through motion, such as turbines moving.

John Martin 

Discovered that sprinkling iron in high nutrient, low chlorophyll areas causes algae blooms


Areas of low oxygen; caused by decomposition and/or HABS. Also called “dead zones”


An organism that can’t make its own nourishment (food) and has to consume things like plant or animal matter

What is the role of oceans in the carbon cycle?


temperature decreases with increasing depth

residence time 

The amount of time that CO2 stays in the ocean Surface: 6 yrs

Mid-ocean: 100 years

Deep ocean: 100,000 years

symbiosis If you want to learn more check out What are Sociological explanations?

Two organisms that live together and benefit from each other; codependent relationship


Nutrient overload in a region, causing

phytoplankton blooms and potentially resulting in HABs

Can be caused/worsened by storms, agriculture, rain, human causes, sewage dumping, etc.


When layer forms “layers” depending on density, salinity, temperature, etc

euphotic zone 

The top layer of water where sunlight is able to penetrate the ocean; this is where photosynthesis occurs and phytoplankton are likely to be


A toxin released by dinoflagellates that causes neurological symptoms, resulting in “Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.”

domoic acid 

A type of toxin produced by diatoms that is released during a HAB. Can result in “Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning.”

calcium carbonate 

Used to made up shells and exoskeletons in the ocean, by phytoplankton and hard coral.


Microbial respiration of organic material; generally done by bacteria in ocean

Decreases O2; can lead to hypoxic or anoxic areas


Small organisms that can build coral communities

together. Corals are built up of hundreds of polyps.


A small organism that can propel itself through the water

Threatened by ocean acidification

● Ocean Acidification If you want to learn more check out Composed of feldspar and are silica rich.

○ How does increasing atmospheric CO2 cause ocean acidification? 

■ The ocean is a huge carbon sink, meaning it takes CO2 from the atmosphere. Carbon dissolves into the water, forming carbonic acid. If you want to learn more check out What are the different types of enzyme regulation?

■ Increases in atmo CO2 leads to increases in carbon dissolving into the ocean ■ Colder water can hold more gases, though, so eventually as the ocean warms, less CO2 will be dissolved into the ocean.

● Salinity increasing also lowers solubility

○ What is the role of oceans in the carbon cycle? 

■ Oceans can uptake carbon from the atmosphere, and transfer it through the ocean currents such as the thermohaline circulation. This means that the deep oceans We also discuss several other topics like political beliefs refers to what?
If you want to learn more check out What is electric field lines and its properties?

hold carbon potentially thousands of years old.

○ How does changes in ocean pH af ect organisms? 

■ Carbonic acid eats away at shells made out of calcium carbonate, used by

pteropods, phytoplankton, and some coral

○ WA ocean and ocean acidification 

■ Seasonal upwelling draws up CO2 from deep waters to surface near the coast of WA

● During winter, winds blow away surface water, so deep water upwells to

replace it

■ Nutrient overloading from agricultural runoff fuels phytoplankton, which create more CO2

○ Shellfish and ocean acidification 

■ Acidic water eats away at the shells of the shellfish, harming them and limiting their growth

■ Aquaculture in WA provides $100.5m per year

● WA provides 85% of all West Coast shellfish

● Coral

○ How are they made? 

■ Skeletons are made from lower polyps secreting new basal plates above the old one

■ This is attached to rocks or hard surfaces in ocean

■ Grow 0.3-2 cm/yr

○ Types If you want to learn more check out What is the transition to synchronized sound?

■ Reef-building

● Hundreds of thousands of polyps form colonies that are called coral.

Their exoskeleton is made from calcium carbonate. They have a

symbiotic relationship with single-celled organisms called zooxanthellae,

whom provide 90% of organic material to polyps through photosynthesis

■ Deep-water

● No zooxanthellae

● Restricted to areas with food, such as zooplankton

○ Optimal growing conditions 

■ Sunlight

● For zooxanthellae to photosynthesize

■ Warm, clear, shallow, salty waters

■ Above 30°C or below 18°C

■ Most grow between 30°N and 30°S

○ Ways to protect coral 

■ Coral Reef Task Force is a US federal program that researches causes and ways to protect coral

■ Coral Gardening

● Corals grown in nursery, and then replanted in reefs

■ Electricity

● Cages around coral to protect from damage

● Electric current encourages growth

■ Keeping tourists away from reefs

■ Reducing CO2 to below 350ppm

● OA can eat away at coral skeleton

● Lowering temperatures of water

■ Selective breeding of coral

● Phytoplankton

○ Types 

■ Diatoms

● 2-20um

● Unicellular

● Encased in wall made of silicic acid called a frustrule

■ Dinoflagellates

● They have two flagella to propel themselves around

● ½ of them are photosynthetic

● Shell made from cellulose

■ Coccolithophores

● CaCO3 shells called coccoliths

● Common in tropical waters

■ Cyanobacteria

● Blue-green algae

● Oldest phytoplankton

● Photosynthetic bacteria

○ Why are they important? 

■ Provide the base of the food chain

■ Make ½ of all world’s O2

■ Generate organic carbon from inorganic CO2

■ Consume CO2 on a level equal to all land plants

○ Photosynthesis 

■ The process of converting light energy to chemical energy

■ Done by phytoplankton

■ Requires sufficient light; euphotic zone.

○ Factors leading to phytoplankton bloom 

■ Light (require bright, sunny, calm weather)

■ High surface temperature

● Need vertical stability

■ Nutrients

● Require N, P, and Fe

○ Decline in blooms 

■ Nutrient depletion

■ Consumption of phytoplankton


■ Blooms that cause health problems; these are toxic

■ Factors:

● Phytoplankton blooms

● Nutrient overloading

○ Eutrophication 

○ Sewage and agri runoff

● Temperature increased

■ Types:

● Toxic vecturing through food chain

○ Accumulates through feeding and impacts top of food chain

● Selective fish killers

○ Spiny diatoms get stuck in the gills of fish, eventually

suffocating them

○ Secret mucus to impair respiratory and osmoregulatory

capabilities of the fish

● Indiscriminate kill of marine fauna

○ Cause anoxic/hypoxic conditions

○ Can be any PP species

■ Impact on health:

● Can cause diseases, death, harm food chain, deplete oxygen

● Thermohaline Circulation

○ A circulation driven by the sinking of cold, salty water. It’s responsible for transporting heat, gases, and nutrients throughout the ocean.

○ Density

■ Density is what drives the THC. If water is warmer and fresher, the THC may slow down.

■ Heat 

● The colder the water (up to a certain point until it turns into ice), the

denser it is.

● This is the thermocline.

■ Salinity 

● The more salt the water contains, the denser it will be

○ Evaporation removes salt, increasing density

○ Adding fresh water (sea/land ice melt, rain) decreases salinity

● Pollution

○ Regulations 

■ 1972 Clean Water Act

● Reduced toxic pollutant dumping from point sources in US


■ Marine protection, research , and sanctuaries act

● Prohibits active transport and dumping of waste created on land

into the ocean

■ National Environmental Policy Act

● Prohibits disposal of waste material into the ocean, and regulates

discharge of water from pipelines ending up in the ocean

■ River and Harbor Act

● This prohibits obstructing passage through US waterways

○ Point pollution 

■ Pollution where it comes from a single source that you can identify

○ Non-point pollution 

■ Pollution that cannot be identified where it came from; comes from many sources ○ Types 

■ Sewage

● Fecal waste

■ Toxicants

● Causes growth impairments



■ Pharmaceuticals

● Creates growth and reproduction impairments

■ Stormwater runoff

● Eutrophication

■ Oil

● Lowers oxygen production

● Causes:

○ Oil spills, underwater drilling

● Problems:

○ Damage to food web

○ Coats seabird, ingestion leads to death

○ Reduction in photosynthesis

○ Loss of habitat

● What happens to it?

○ Hours: spreads, evaporates, and disperses

○ Days: dissolution into water, emulsification

○ Weeks: photo-oxidation, sedimentation

○ Years: biodegradation

■ Noise

● Completely unregulated

● Disrupts echolocation

● Causes:

○ Ships, cruises

■ Plastic

● Never goes away; it just photodegrades and turns into microplastic,

which is ingested by marine organisms and kills them

○ How does it impact humans? 

■ Harms fishing industry, can cause diseases

○ Great Garbage patch 

■ Formed by “gyres,” or ocean currents that flow in a circle

● Wind sets surface water in motion

● Direction is decided by the Corolis effect

○ Rational speed is higher at equators than at poles

○ Goes right in N. Hemisphere

○ Left in S. Hemisphere

■ Ekman transport

● Oceans are like a layer cake

● The winds move the top layer of water, and friction moves the next layer below it

○ Because of the friction, the second layer moves slower than the


○ This continues to slow down for every layer

● Together, these form areas of convergence and causes downwelling

● Areas of divergence create upwelling

● Bacteria and Viruses

○ Bacteria 

■ The oldest form of life, single cells ranging from 0.2-2mm in size

■ Reproduce through binary fission and are the “decomposers” and “respirators” of the food web

■ Assist in nutrient cycling

■ Can cause diseases

○ Viruses 

■ Most abundant life form in oceans

■ Non-living; require host to reproduce

■ Two types of life forms: lytic (host explodes) or lysogenic (host cell lives) ○ Disease 

■ Cholera 

● Infection caused by vibrio cholerae

● Symptoms are dehydration, diarrhea, nausea

● Transferred thru contaminated shellfish, plankton in water, raw sewage

■ Diseases linked to sea surface temperatures 

● 71% of diseases are likely to be affected by ocean waters

○ Vibrio, algae blooms, fish poisoning

■ Sea Star Wasting Disease 

● Suspected to be caused by a virus called densovirus

○ How can changing ocean conditions lead to disease outbreaks? 

■ For vibrio, warmer sea surface temperatures can encourage bacteria growth, as well as ocean height and PP blooms

● These can be seen by satellites, which are used to predict cholera


○ How does health of the marine system af ect the ability to find new pharmaceuticals? ■ Scientists are looking to algae and other organisms in the ocean to find new drugs ■ These organisms could die/disappear from ocean acidification, rising

temperatures, etc.

● The solutions could die with them

● Ocean Solutions

○ Carbon sequestration 

■ To take carbon from the atmosphere and “trap” it somewhere, such as the land or ocean

■ Ways to do it: 

● Dissolution injetcs

○ Injecting CO2 into deep ocean with ships or pipes

● Lake Injects

○ Injecting CO2 into sea floor

● Phytoplankton

○ Sinking, dead PP capture CO2 and bring it with them to the sea

floor when they die, putting CO2 into deep ocean

● Biological pump 

○ the ocean's biologically driven sequestration of carbon from the 

atmosphere to deep sea water and sediment 

○ Removes 10 gigatonnes of carbon per year from atmosphere and 

into deep ocean 

○ Iron Fertilization

■ Putting iron into HNLC areas in order to encourage

phytoplankton growth

■ Nitrate and iron as limiting nutrients 

● Nitrate is limiting in most parts of the world

● Iron is limiting factor in HNLC areas

(Antarctica, equator Pacific, Gulf of Alaska)

● Redfield ratio:

○ 106 (C): 12 (N): 1 (Phosporous)

● 1 (Fe): 10,000 (C) for PP growth

■ Sources of N and Fe 

● Iron usually comes from the land

■ Benefits 

● Did up PP growth

● Remove some CO2

● Boost food web

■ Downfalls 

● Can result in HABS

○ Anoxic areas can form

● Didn’t draw significant amount of CO2

● Food chain disruptions

○ Ocean Energy 

■ Wind 

● Indirect solar energy; winds move turbines set up in oceans, producing energy

● ~4000GW of potential energy off of US coastlines

● Pros:

○ Stronger winds over oceans, less visible, could host artificial


● Cons:

○ Seabed disturbance, noise pollution, winds are unpredictable

■ Ocean Waves 

● Depend on wind speed, distance of open water, length of time, water depth

● Could be captured by buoys or float systems, oscillating water columns, tapered channels

● Potential energy of 300GW

● Pros:

○ Mostly pollution free

○ Net potential is high

● Cons:

○ Toxic leak risk

○ visual/noise impacts

■ Ocean Tides

● Occur due to gravitational pull from sun and mood, and centrifugal force from rotating earth-moon system

● Vocab:

○ Flood tide = rising tide

○ Ebb tide = falling tide

○ Slack tide = no tidal movement

● Could be captured for energy through tidal stream generators or tidal


● Potential energy of 1000GW worldwide

● Pros:

○ Pollution free, reliable and predictable

■ Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion 

● Creates energy by pumping warmer water from surface to deeper, colder waters and creating steam that turns turbines to create energy

● Requires a 20°C difference between surface and deep waters

● Pros:

○ Clean energy

● Cons:

○ Could release CO2 from deep ocean

■ Ocean Currents 

● Using submerged water turbines

● Pros:

○ Predictable, one way flow

○ More energy than wind

● Cons:

○ Injury from turbines to marine organisms

○ Impacts on shipping and recreation (turbines should be close to


○ Potential impact on currents

○ Desalinization 

■ The process of removing salt from water to make it suitable for drinking, agriculture, etc.

■ Very costly

● Carbon Footprint

○ How much carbon each individual person makes

○ Types:

■ Primary

● What we individually produce

■ Secondary

● The carbon produced by the things we consume (food, clothes, material

goods, etc)

○ Ways to reduce

■ Drive less, use less energy

■ Write to congresspeople

■ Vote for people who want to reduce CO2 ○ Top CO2 global emitters 

■ China, worldwide

■ US, per capita

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