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Phytoplankton: Will tiny algae save Earth from climate collapse?  |  life and knowledge

Phytoplankton: Will tiny algae save Earth from climate collapse? | life and knowledge

They are barely visible to the human eye: the phytoplankton. There’s a new study on the microscopic organisms that inhabit our oceans — and microscopic algae are giving a whole new meaning.

Because: little creatures can become the saviors of humanity. According to the study Helmholtz Center Hanaun In Geesthacht, it is possible that phytoplankton in the oceans are absorbing more harmful carbon dioxide than previously thought. This would be excellent news to combat climate change.

Bild explains links.

Phytoplankton are responsible for photosynthesis in the oceans. This means that carbon dioxide, which is harmful to the climate, is converted into oxygen and carbon. After all, the oceans absorb about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by humans, and thus pull it out of the atmosphere.

Underwater food chain: whales feed on zooplankton, among other things, which in turn live on phytoplankton.

Photo: Getty Images

Can phytoplankton save our planet?

Until now, scientists believed that phytoplankton are passive and carried only by currents in the oceans. However, Professor Kay Wirts, head of the study, hypothesizes that phytoplankton actively migrate. It absorbs carbon dioxide in the upper layers of water and can absorb nutrients in the lower layers. Young algae need both.

Kai Wirts is study leader and professor at the Coastal Systems Institute

Kai Wirts is study leader and professor at the Coastal Systems Institute

Photo: private

“This results in a carbon pump that operates much more efficiently than previously thought,” Wirtz explains to BILD. The researcher even believes that many climate models must now be redesigned. However, the research team’s previous theoretical calculations should prove practical. But Wirtz is convinced it’s worth it.

Kai Wirts: “If our assumptions are correct, it is likely that a very bad climate scenario will not materialize. And we have a real chance.”

Until now, many colleagues have assumed that ocean carbon uptake will drop dramatically as a result of warming. However, the German study came to the conclusion that oceans and seas absorb more carbon dioxide, even as air and water temperatures rise.

“We can then get the curve with the climate protection measures that have now been outlined. We just have to act now,” emphasizes the researcher.

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