Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Global warming likely to reduce phytoplankton size, thereby reducing ocean's capacity to remove carbon dioxide from air

Date:
June 9, 2010
Source:
IEO Instituto Español de Oceanografía
Summary:
Both the absolute and relative biomass of small phytoplankton in the North Atlantic increase at higher temperature according to new research. The latter variable largely determines the ultimate fate of organic carbon produced during photosynthesis, hence the study anticipates future alterations in the functioning of marine ecosystems which can be summarized in a reduced capacity of the oceans to remove atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Picoplankton under the microscope by Daniel Vaulot.
Credit: CNRS, Francia

According to a study led by researchers at the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) both the absolute and relative biomass of small phytoplankton in the North Atlantic increase at higher temperature. The latter variable largely determines the ultimate fate of organic carbon produced during photosynthesis, hence the study anticipates future alterations in the functioning of marine ecosystems which can be summarized in a reduced capacity of the oceans to remove atmospheric CO2.

Researchers at the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) Xosé Anxelu G. Morán, Ángel López-Urrutia and Alejandra Calvo-Díaz, with the collaboration of William K. W. Li, from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Canada, have evidenced that the contribution to phytoplankton total biomass of its smallest fraction (picophytoplankton, less than 2 µm in diameter) is greater in warmer waters. This study, published last March in the journal Global Change Biology, anticipates future changes in the functioning of marine ecosystems as phytoplankton size largely determines the ultimate fate of organic carbon produced during photosynthesis.

The study was developed with data obtained in different cruises carried out between 1994 and 2007 in the Northwestern Atlantic (between 43 and 60ºN latitude), and with samples taken monthly from 2002-2007 in the Northeastern Atlantic (43° N) under the strategic program of the IEO on time series of oceanographic data called RADIALES.

They analyzed more than 150 plankton samples taken throughout the year within a temperature range between 0 and 22 º C and measured the concentration of the smallest organisms: the picophytoplankton, photosynthetic unicells with a diameter of less than 2 µm, about 40 times smaller than a human hair.

Analyzing the results in terms of biomass (organic carbon content) showed that while total phytoplankton decreased with warmer temperature, as already demonstrated in other recent studies, the biomass of smaller cells increased. This trend, which was practically identical on both sides of the ocean, shows that picophytoplanktonic contribution to total biomass would be greater in a global warming scenario.

The size of phytoplankton is a key variable that determines the structure and functioning of the marine food web and ultimately, the fate of the organic carbon produced during photosynthesis. The impact of the increase in these small primary producers can be summarized as a significant reduction in the potential of the oceans as a sink for atmospheric CO2. The Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) is a public research organization, from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, dedicated to research in marine science; especially in relation to scientific knowledge of oceans, sustainability of fisheries resources and marine environment. The IEO represents Spain in most of the international science and technology forums related to the sea and its resources. IEO has nine coastal oceanographic centres, five experimental aquaculture plants, twelve tide gauge stations, one station for receiving satellite images and a fleet of six research vessels.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by IEO Instituto Español de Oceanografía. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xosé Anxelu G. Morán, Ángel López-Urrutia, Alejandra Calvo-Díaz, William K. W. Li. Increasing importance of small phytoplankton in a warmer ocean. Global Change Biology, 2010; 16 (3): 1137 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.01960.x

Cite This Page:

IEO Instituto Español de Oceanografía. "Global warming likely to reduce phytoplankton size, thereby reducing ocean's capacity to remove carbon dioxide from air." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100609094357.htm>.
IEO Instituto Español de Oceanografía. (2010, June 9). Global warming likely to reduce phytoplankton size, thereby reducing ocean's capacity to remove carbon dioxide from air. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100609094357.htm
IEO Instituto Español de Oceanografía. "Global warming likely to reduce phytoplankton size, thereby reducing ocean's capacity to remove carbon dioxide from air." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100609094357.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) — Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) — Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
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