Dealth of Artic Plankton a Warning on Warming

Posted on November 25, 2008  Comments (0)

Death bloom of plankton a warning on warming by David Perlman

Vanishing Arctic sea ice brought on by climate change is causing the crucially important microscopic marine plants called phytoplankton to bloom explosively and die away as never before, a phenomenon that is likely to create havoc among migratory creatures that rely on the ocean for food, Stanford scientists have found.

Phytoplankton throughout the world’s oceans is the crucial nutrient at the base of the food web on which all marine life depends; when it’s plentiful, life thrives and when it’s gone, marine life is impossible.

“It’s a complex system,” Arrigo said in an interview, “but as the changes in ice cover throw the timing of phytoplankton abundance off, then the birds and animals whose brains have long been programmed to migrate north at specific times of the year will have missed the boat if there’s no nourishment for them when they get there.”

Every spring and summer, phytoplankton in the Arctic blooms richly in explosive pulses, nourished by nitrogen and phosphorous in the seawater, and when those chemicals are consumed, the blooms end, Arrigo said.

Related: Arctic System on Trajectory to New, Seasonally Ice-Free StateOcean Warming’s Effect on PhytoplanktonWhat’s Up With the Weather?posts related to oceans

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