posted on Mar, 19 2013 @ 05:04 PM
Models of carbon dioxide in the world's oceans need to be revised, accordingto new work by UC Irvine and other scientists published online Sunday in
Nature Geoscience. Trillions of plankton near the surface of warm waters are far more carbon-rich than has long been thought, they found. Global
marine temperature fluctuations could mean that tiny Prochlorococcus and other microbes digest double the carbon previouslycalculated. Carbon dioxide
is the leading driver of disruptive climate change.
In making their findings, the researchers have upended a decades-old core principle ofmarine science known as the Redfield ratio, named for famed
oceanographer Alfred Redfield. He concluded in 1934 that from the top of the world's oceans to their cool, dark depths, both plankton and the
materials they excrete contain the same ratio (106:16:1) of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous. But as any gardener who has done a soil test knows,
amounts of those elements can vary widely. The new study's authors found dramatically different ratios at a variety of marine locations. What matters
more than depth, they concluded, is latitude. In particular, the researchers detected far higher levels of carbon in warm, nutrient-starved areas
(195:28:1) near the equator than in cold, nutrient-rich polar zones (78:13:1). "The Redfield concept remains a central tenetin ocean biology and
chemistry. However, we clearly show that the nutrient content ratio inplankton is not constant and thus reject this longstanding central theory for
ocean science," said lead author Adam Martiny, associate professor of Earth system science and ecology & evolutionary biology at UC Irvine.
"Instead, we show that plankton follow a strong latitudinal pattern." Source -