Phytoplankton helps cool planet

Phytoplankton helps cool planet

November 30, 2022

Scientists propose to fertilize the ocean so that single-celled algae multiply and absorb carbon.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Single-celled algae, which convert sunlight into nutrients, are an important link in the food chain. Phytoplankton blooms in summer in the Arctic and Antarctica oceans waters are not uncommon. In winter, when the ice thickness increases, the algae die – as scientists used to think.

Two independent studies proved that phytoplankton does not die under the ice thickness. In Antarctica, for example, unicellular algae bloom even before the glaciers begin to melt during the warm season, reports, citing work published in the Global Change Biology and Frontiers in Marine Science magazines.

Scientists believe the winter blooms are linked to global warming: thinning sea ice can allow sunlight to reach deeper depths than ever before. Experts have come to the conclusion that at least 50 percent of the ice in Antarctica has blooming phytoplankton under it.

In addition to feeding microorganisms, phytoplankton performs another important function – it absorbs carbon from the atmosphere. Experts even suggest fertilizing the ocean to create better conditions for single-celled algae to thrive. Perhaps this will help slow down the warming.

Previously, scientists discovered the phenomenon of ‘carbon conveyor’ in the Arctic seas. Swiss researchers believe that tundra plants will help slow the melting of the Arctic. We also reported that due to climate change, arctic lakes are drying up, and grass has begun to grow in the tundra instead of reindeer moss.

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Text: Anzhelika Stepanova, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko

November 30, 2022

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