research from the University of East Anglia shows that rising ocean
temperatures will upset natural cycles of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and
plays an important role in the ocean's carbon cycle by removing half of all CO2
from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and storing it deep under the sea –
isolated from the atmosphere for centuries.
published today in the journal Nature Climate Change reveal that water
temperature has a direct impact on maintaining the delicate plankton ecosystem
of our oceans.
research means that ocean warming will impact plankton, and in turn drive a
vicious cycle of climate change.
from UEA's School of Environmental Sciences and the School of Computing
Sciences investigated phytoplankton – microscopic plant-like organisms that
rely on photosynthesis to reproduce and grow.
What is Phytoplankton?
researcher Dr Thomas Mock, said: "Phytoplankton, including micro-algae, is responsible for half of the carbon dioxide that is naturally removed from
the atmosphere. As well as being vital to climate control, it also creates
enough oxygen for every other breath we take, and forms the base of the food
chain for fisheries, so it is incredibly important for food security.
studies have shown that phytoplankton communities respond to global warming by
changes in diversity and productivity. But with our study we show that warmer
temperatures directly impact the chemical cycles in plankton, which has not
been shown before."
from the University of Exeter, who are co-authors of this study, developed
computer generated models to create a global ecosystem model that took into
account world ocean temperatures, 1.5 million plankton DNA sequences taken from
samples, and biochemical data.
Temperature plays a critical role
found that temperature plays a critical role in driving the cycling of
chemicals in marine micro-algae. It affects these reactions as much as
nutrients and light, which was not known before," said Dr Mock.
warmer temperatures, marine micro-algae do not seem to produce as many
ribosomes as under lower temperatures. Ribosomes join up the building blocks of
proteins in cells. They are rich in phosphorous and if they are being reduced,
this will produce higher ratios of nitrogen compared to phosphorous, increasing
the demand for nitrogen in the oceans.
will eventually lead to a greater prevalence of blue-green algae called
cyanobacteria which fix atmospheric nitrogen," he added.