In principle, there is no lack of iron on Earth as the metal is one of the most abundant elements in Earth’s crust. However in the ocean, dissolved iron is very rare, since it reacts rapidly with oxygen forming iron minerals which are poorly soluble and therefore unavailable for organisms. Nevertheless, dissolved iron is an essential nutrient for life. Without iron there would be no plankton growth, no food chain, no photosynthesis and no carbon fixation in the oceans.
A new multiyear study from scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has shown for the first time how changes in ocean temperature affect a key species of phytoplankton. The study, published in the October 21 issue of the journal Science, tracked levels of Synechococcus — a tiny bacterium common in marine ecosystems — near the coast of Massachusetts over a 13-year period. As ocean temperatures increased during that time, annual blooms of Synechococcus occurred up to four weeks earlier than usual because cells divided faster in warmer conditions, the study found.
Scientists have discovered that Antarctic krill – a tiny shrimp-like crustacean – plays a key role in fertilising the Southern Ocean with iron, which stimulates the growth of phytoplankton, the microscopic plants at the base of the marine food web. This finding is important for understanding the oceans’ capacity for carbon capture.
Whales, seals and penguins could be hurting as this tiny creature–fundamental to the food web–declines
Methane is stored under the sea floor, concentrated in form of hydrates, crystalline ice structures that stay stable under high pressure and in low temperatures. Several studies suggest that as the ocean warms, the hydrates might melt and potentially release methane into the ocean waters and atmosphere.
A new study of nearly 22,000 fossils finds that ancient plankton communities began changing in important ways as much as 400,000 years before massive die-offs ensued during the first of Earth’s five great extinctions.
Plankton that slurp up poisonous algae put themselves at risk of getting eaten by predators, a new study says.
As nations across the globe negotiate how to reduce their contributions to climate change, researchers at Penn are investigating just how the coming changes will impact the planet.
(From ScienceDaily) — What’s clear is that the effect …
Ocean acidification can weaken algal skeletons, reducing their performance and impacting upon marine biodiversity, say scientists in a new research paper published this week.
Researchers have shown for the first time that phytoplankton (plant life) in remote ocean regions can contribute to rare airborne particles that trigger ice formation in clouds.
Zooplankton no bigger than grains of rice play a much larger role in the transport and storage of CO2in the ocean than previously thought.
Researchers at Hiroshima University and the University of Tsukuba showed that coccolith disks made of calcium carbonate in Emiliania huxleyi, one of the promising biomass resources, potentially perform roles in reducing and enhancing the light that enters the cell by light scattering. Elucidation of the physiological significance of coccolith formation in E. huxleyi can help promote efficient bioenergy production using microalgae.