Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plankton Cool The Southern Hemisphere

Date:
November 24, 2004
Source:
Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research
Summary:
Dutch research has shown that marine plankton have the greatest effect on the climate in the southern hemisphere, even though the majority of plankton are found in oceans in the northern hemisphere.

Ph.D. student Mtinkheni Gondwe used satellite observations to follow the distribution of phytoplankton in the oceans. On the northern hemispehere more plankton is present than on the southern hemisphere (blue is least, red is most).
Credit: Image courtesy of Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research

Dutch research has shown that marine plankton have the greatest effect on the climate in the southern hemisphere, even though the majority of plankton are found in oceans in the northern hemisphere.

Mtinkheni Gondwe used satellite observations to follow the distribution of phytoplankton in the oceans. Although the majority of plankton are found between the middle and high latitudes in the northern hemisphere, the effect of these on the climate is greatest in the southern hemisphere.

Plankton can influence the climate by producing the gas dimethyl sulphide (DMS). This gas is a source of small sulphur particles in the atmosphere, which act as condensation nuclei for the water vapour. The miniscule water drops formed in the air as a result of this, reflect the sunlight back before it reaches the Earth, causing the Earth to cool.

There are various reasons why plankton exert a greater influence on the climate in the southern hemisphere than in the northern hemisphere. For example, the plankton species in the southern hemisphere produce more DMS than their northern counterparts. Also in the southern hemisphere there is a higher DMS flux from the sea to the atmosphere and the sea surface area is greater. Finally, the atmosphere has a lower oxidation capacity in the southern hemisphere than in the northern hemisphere, which means that less DMS is broken down in the atmosphere. In the more industrialised northern atmosphere, there is a far greater emission of radical precursors which increase this oxidation capacity.

However, Gondwe concludes that the production of DMS by plankton only has a small effect on the Earth's temperature. Other compounds, such as carbon dioxide and CFCs have a far greater effect on the Earth's climate. The effects of the DMS production by plankton are particularly noticeable at a regional level.

The research was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. "Plankton Cool The Southern Hemisphere." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123172310.htm>.
Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. (2004, November 24). Plankton Cool The Southern Hemisphere. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123172310.htm
Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. "Plankton Cool The Southern Hemisphere." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123172310.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) An Arkansas man has found a nearly 6.2-carat diamond, which he dubbed "The Limitless Diamond," at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) At least six Nepalese guides are dead after an avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest along a route used to climb the world's highest peak. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins