Dr. Lisa Levin, an oceanographer and professor from the University of California, San Diego discussed climate change at Old Dominion University on April 11 for the 26th anniversary of the Ludwick Lecture program. The lecture was organized by ODU’s Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, a series named for Jack Ludwick, former director of the Institute of Oceanography at ODU.
Levin made many contributions to topics in oceanography and other earth sciences and she has also contributed many publications from 1981 to 2012.
Levin wrote in a preview of her lecture, “Over the past 50 years our view of the deep sea has changed dramatically… Once considered homogenous and monotonous, we now recognize that the deep sea holds tremendous habitat heterogeneity from a wealth of topographic, hydrographic, geochemical and biological sources. This heterogeneity represents a major source of biodiversity, which is key to effective functioning of deep-sea ecosystems.”
The focus of the seminar was discussing the study of deep-sea biology and biodiversity, and the need for further study of ocean exploration. Levin began with an overview of what humans have explored and, then moved into how the environment above and below the sea floors’ surface affects the organisms living on it.
Levin also highlighted the peculiar nature of life in the ocean, with examples such as worms that can live in virtually oxygen-less environments. She also discussed the symbiotic relationships that occur inside of the bones of dead whales on the ocean floor.
After she described scientific uses and features of deep-sea observation, Levin moved on to talk about how climate change may affect the oceans’ ecosystems. Carbon dioxide, oxygen, pH and temperature were discussed as factors that may affect the oceans and how slight changes of these components, could cause widespread effects in their ecosystems. According to Levin, a sharp de-oxygenation of mid-ocean levels that has been occurring since the 1970s could be another important issue professionals should work toward solving.
The consequences of these effects of climate change may cause habitat compression, which could force mid-ocean species to move higher to oxygen-rich areas. This could affect species like Marlin and could force the fish to swim into shallower waters where they may be over-fished and possibly pushed to near extinction.
A list Lisa Levin’s publications can be found at http://levin.ucsd.edu/.
By Sean Burke