Earth

Global warming of our oceans will accelerate climate change

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 09:51 GMT Jump to Comments

The Earth's ever-milder temperatures will flick a switch on the world's oceans' natural CO2 production and send climate change into overdrive, a shocking new report has claimed.

The world's oceans emit more of the greenhouse gas CO2 when plunged into warmer temperatures, a new study has confirmed.

Gleaned from the analysis of a 26,000 year old sediment core sample taken from the Gulf of California, scientists based at the University of Edinburgh found that low levels of elements silicon and iron in the water, indicative of warmer climates, corresponded with phytoplanktons' reduced ability to absorb CO2.

These two key elements were tracked in the fossils of the miniscule marine organisms; it has long been believed that iron intake plays a significant role in the organism's ability to absorb CO2, and the study appears to confirm this.

Phytoplankton, which are too small to be seen by the naked eye, obtain their energy through photosynthesis. They are considered the primary source of oxygen on our planet, and their existence sustains the entire aquatic food chain. 

The link between iron levels and CO2 absorption in plankton appeared particularly strong in the southern ocean, as well as in the equatorial Pacific and coastal areas. These areas are considered of particular influence in climate change.

The study, published in Nature Geoscience, was led by Dr Laetitia Pichevin from the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences. She said: "Iron is known to be a key nutrient for plankton, but we were surprised by the many ways in which iron affects the CO2 given off by the oceans. If warming climates lower iron levels at the sea surface, as occurred in the past, this is bad news for the environment."

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