• Question: are you interested in the ocean or sea animals and making the sea clean again and stuff?

    Asked by satlyy.sheila to Mark, Keegan, Clay, Ana on 28 Apr 2016.
    • Photo: Clay Robinson

      Clay Robinson answered on 28 Apr 2016:

      All the systems on the earth are interconnected, and we should be concerned about conserving and cleaning them.
      I have never lived anywhere near the sea, and have visited a sea or ocean a few times in my life. I spend my energy and time on systems I encounter regularly, including the local ecosystems.
      When I move to Illinois I will be working on problems related to agriculture, fertilizer and nutrient management and water quality in lakes and rivers and groundwater. Indirectly this has an effect on the oceans, as the runoff water from much of Illinois eventually ends up in the Gulf of Mexico, while the rest goes into Lake Michigan.
      We all need to do our part to reduce litter, reuse, and recycle so that less trash ends up in lakes, oceans, and seas.
      In a strange twist, though, wind and water erosion that remove topsoil and take it to the ocean actually provide nutrients the plants in the ocean need to live, and so provide the base for the ocean food web.

    • Photo: Mark Ritchie

      Mark Ritchie answered on 29 Apr 2016:

      While I’d have to say I’m more of a “land” person than a “water” person, I am interested in what goes on in the ocean. I’m fascinated by why the most productive ecosystems on earth are where deep ocean currents smack into continents and push up to the surface, or why the Southern Ocean that wraps around Antarctica is so productive. Why do we find more life when its cold than warm? I also love coral reefs and their impressive geometry, which turns out to be something called “fractal” where the tangled pattern of individual corals (the “bumps” on a reef) is repeated as you look at it from farther and farther away.
      A great potential outcome of my work with soils is that storing more greenhouse gases in the soil may help reduce the increase in sea level and slow the rate at which the ocean is becoming more acidic because there is more carbon dioxide dissolved in it. So I am definitely interested in helping the ocean!