Marine scientists from Johns Hopkins University have published a study in the journal Science detailing the fact that the rising phenomenon of planktons in our oceans is largely caused by rising incidents of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and in the waters.

To this extent, the researchers discovered that the amounts of single-celled algae and coccolithophores among others have increased 10x in oceans around the world in 2010 what they were in 1965. This means that the level of free-living or colonial organisms with diverse nutritional and reproductive modes have risen from 2% to over 20% in 2010, with the 90s witnessing the highest spikes in numbers.

Anand Gnanadesikan, associate professor in the Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins noted that there is a marine development underway, and it’s occurring faster than scientists think it should.

Using the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation (SAHFOS) Continuous Plankton Recorder survey data since the 1960s in North Atlantic Ocean and North Sea, the scientists were able to discover that the level of CO2 in the ocean has spiked to warrant the increased populations of coccolithophores.

The team of researchers cannot readily say for now if the observed increase in the population of marine alga would benefit or endanger our world; but it is certain that it would be a blessing to marine creatures that depend on tiny plants for food, while posing a danger to the health of marine ecosystems.

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It is however believed how each unit of alga thrives or behaves in the ocean would determine the health of the ecosystem; a reduction or increase in one unit could affect the health of the other units, of the marine ecosystem, and of the creatures that depend on the alga for food.

According to Dr. William Balch, a senior research scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and a co-author of the study, it is necessary to determine the actual impact of the alga on marine ecosystems and how this relates to the increase of CO2 in our atmosphere and waters because of the approaching United Nations Conference on Climate Change which is scheduled to hold in Paris among world leaders next week.

SOURCEScience Magazine
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Since plankton is the food of whales, will this not cause the whale population to rebound? Could there be yet another silver lining in global warming?

  2. Warming waters and increased CO2 levels are creating better growth conditions for these tiny plants. This is one of the ways CO2 is removed – part of the carbon cycle. Massive increases in these plants, mean massive amounts of CO2 removed. Perhaps this is one of the things not taken into account by computer climate models.
    Warm temperatures and addition of CO2 are what commercial greenhouse operators use to get rapid plant growth. Not sure why this seems to be such a surprise.

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