Oh no! Not the Phytoplankton!


Recent studies have shown that there is a global decline of the world’s phytoplankton. it has been estimated that 40% have been lost in the past 50 years. Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that live in the world’s oceans and are responsible for roughly 50% of the planets photosynthesis. They also play a major role in the carbon cycle and are the base of our oceans’ food web. Phytoplankton are the seas life support system. Any changes they are subjected to will affect the distribution and abundance of ocean life, on top of influencing the ecology of our entire planet. So… these little guys are a big deal. Anthropogenic climate change is the main culprit to the decline in phytoplankton abundance. The average global rise in temperature is impacting the phytoplankton , ocean circulation and conditions on the ocean surface like nutrients and light availability. An assessment of plankton in the North Atlantic has found that they are moving north-eastwards. This change is projected to be faster on a median level than has been seen historically. The severity of movement is not the same across species. Some species do not appear to move at all, some move farther than others. The study conducted has given a sense that there is a broad ranges of phytoplankton responses to climate change. This study further indicates that we don’t have a great sense of what will happen to organisms when the climate is modified. We cannot confidently predict all of the affects of climate change. Therefore it is important to conduct monitoring programs like this study. They have become a major tool for the scientific community and will continue to be useful during the environmental changes to come.

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