The impact of climate change can be seen in the light of tiny Organisms
As the world warms, changes in marine nutrition seem like an expected consequence. The reality is more complicated. Plankton are some of the most important organisms in the ocean, and new research suggests that processes below the ocean surface may be controlling what is happening above.
The balance of chemical elements inside them is critical to shaping many marine processes, including the food web and the global carbon cycle. The ratio of elements has been thought to be controlled by temperature. A new study shows that the balance is dependent on the ocean's activity at depths over 300 feet.
The team looked at samples from eight locations in oceans around the world and their work was published in Communications Earth and Environment. The balance of nitrogen and phosphorus in the marine organisms that form the foundation of ocean health is controlled by the ratio of nitrogen and phosphorus introduced from the subsurface ocean. This discovery could allow scientists to more accurately explore complex ocean processes.
Researchers have been using a fixed ratio to estimate the balance of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in marine environments for decades, but now they can apply more realistic parameters based on what is actually driving marine dynamics to the computer models used to forecast ocean change. The International Panel on Climate Change uses this ratio in simulations to make predictions about the future of the planet, but it does not represent the wide diversity of chemical balances in the ocean. More realistic, but risky and complicated, approaches are not yet widely utilized to develop a more accurate understanding of these ratios.
It is not the first time that phytoplankton have been examined to understand how the ocean replenishes its resources, but it is the most advanced and comprehensive. The team looked at plants around the world to create a snapshot of three critical elements. Physical filters were used to sort out plankton from the water.
This approach can lead to errors because it can also capturebacteria and tiny particles. The researchers were able to only look at the cells they were interested in. The team found that the ratio of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in cells was dependent on the ratio of nitrogen and phosphorus.
This was true across all locations, regardless of the kind of phytoplankton or their environmental conditions. Loras hopes that this improved understanding of nutrients can be used to better picture how oceans will respond to climate change. We will really advance our understanding of ocean dynamics and ability to forecast future conditions as we blend these results with other advanced disciplines.
There is a DOI: 10.1038/s 43247-021-00212-9."