Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

One third less life on planet Earth? Scientists offer better estimate of living biomass

Date:
August 27, 2012
Source:
Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Summary:
Previous estimates about the total mass of all life on our planet have to be reduced by about one third, according to the results of a study by a German-U.S. science team.

Satellite measurements of the nutrient content of the oceans. Dots mark places where seaborne measurements were taken. In the southern Pacific a vast area is found where nutrient contents were not existent.
Credit: GFZ, Jens Kallmeyer

Previous estimates about the total mass of all life on our planet have to be reduced by about one third. This is the result of a study by a German-U.S. science team published in the current online issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

According to previous estimates about one thousand billion tons of carbon are stored in living organisms, of which 30% in single-cell microbes in the ocean floor and 55 % reside in land plants. The science team around Dr. Jens Kallmeyer of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and University of Potsdam has now revised this number: Instead of 300 billion tons of carbon there are only about 4 billion tons stored in subseafloor microbes. This reduces the total amount of carbon stored in living organisms by about one third.

Previous estimates were based on drill cores that were taken close to shore or in very nutrient-rich areas. "About half of the world's ocean is extremely nutrient-poor. For the last 10 years it was already suspected that subseafloor biomass was overestimated" explains Dr. Jens Kallmeyer the motivation behind his study. "Unfortunately there were no data to prove it." Therefore Kallmeyer and his colleagues from the University of Potsdam and the University of Rhode Island, USA, collected sediment cores from areas that were far away from any coasts and islands. The six-year work showed that there were up to one hundred thousand times less cells in sediments from open-ocean areas, which are dubbed "deserts of the sea" due to their extreme nutrient depletion, than in coastal sediments.

With these new data the scientists recalculated the total biomass in marine sediments and found these new, drastically lower values.

Despite of the high logistic and financial efforts for marine drilling operations there are more data of the abundance of living biomass in the sea floor than of their abundance on land. „Our new results show the need to re-examine the other numbers as e.g. the amount of carbon in deep sediments on land," Jens Kallmeyer states. In particular the research into the „Deep Biosphere" is still in the fledgling stages; this is life that can be found in kilometer's depth inside Earth's crust.The new findings contribute to a better picture of the distribution of living biomass on Earth.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jens Kallmeyer et al. Global distribution of microbial abundance and biomass in subseafloor sediment. PNAS, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1203849109

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. "One third less life on planet Earth? Scientists offer better estimate of living biomass." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827151855.htm>.
Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. (2012, August 27). One third less life on planet Earth? Scientists offer better estimate of living biomass. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827151855.htm
Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. "One third less life on planet Earth? Scientists offer better estimate of living biomass." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827151855.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

AFP (Sep. 12, 2014) In June 2013, 10 foreign mountaineers and their guide were murdered on Nanga Parbat, an iconic peak that stands at 8,126m tall in northern Pakisan. Duration: 02:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) Two solar flares which erupted in our direction this week will arrive this weekend. The resulting solar storm will be powerful but not dangerous. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) The Ozone layer is recovering thickness! Hooray! But in helping its recovery, we may have also helped put more greenhouse gases out there. Hooray? Video provided by Newsy
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