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Earth Science

Huge Phytoplankton Bloom Found Under Arctic Ice 99

ananyo writes "Researchers have been shocked to find a record-breaking phytoplankton bloom hidden under Arctic ice. The finding is a big surprise — few scientists thought blooms of this size could grow in Arctic waters. The finding implies that the Arctic is much more productive than previously thought — researchers now think some 25% of the Arctic Ocean has conditions conducive to such blooms (abstract). The discovery also helps to explain why Arctic waters have proven such a good carbon dioxide sink."
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Huge Phytoplankton Bloom Found Under Arctic Ice

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  • Hot photos (Score:5, Informative)

    by BadPirate ( 1572721 ) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @06:01PM (#40250377) Homepage

    Okay... so I couldn't visualize a huge phyto-plankton bloom and TFA was no help. Here's something. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07, 2012 @06:03PM (#40250403)

    Photosynthesis CO2 + water + sunlight -> glucose + O2

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @06:09PM (#40250459) Homepage Journal

    That would only be true if the plankton were buried and did not rot. Same as trees.

    Unless you're going nuclear or launching it into space, nothing permanently gets rid of it. Plants just take CO2 and H2O and strip off the O into the air and use the CH for building material and energy storage. It's all going to go back into the pot again eventually no matter what you do with it.

    "Sequestering" carbon in any way is about the same as "squestering" trash by burying it in the dump. Just gets it out of sight for awhile, you gotta think about the future.

  • by blibbler ( 15793 ) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @06:17PM (#40250555)

    What typically happens is once the plankton dies, it sinks to the bottom of the sea. If it lands in an anaerobic area (a region of low oxygen, which is not uncommon on the sea floor) then it will not rot. Over time, it could be covered with sediments and blocked off from the rest of the sea. Over the course of millions of years, the dead plankton may be cooked at 70-80 degrees and transform into oil and gas. Once in this liquid or gas form, it can move from this source material. If it is caught in a trap, then it could become an economic oil or gas deposit several dozen million years in the future.

    In contrast, most trees fall and rot on the ground. The amazon rainforest is a big area with lots of trees and plants, but there is also lots of organisms actively decomposing the dead material. Some carbon can get stuck in the ground, but it tends to be much less than the sea.

  • by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @09:21PM (#40252147) Journal

    Those little gomers are 20 - 30% lipids, and those lipids are what gets turned into petroleum crude oil after it settles out and reduces under the seabed muck.

  • Re:shocked? (Score:4, Informative)

    by a_mari_usque_ad_mare ( 1996182 ) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @11:09PM (#40252881)

    You make a false equivalence here. Both sides have clowns, but one side has the vast majority of publishing scientists and the royal scientific societies in many nations. Only one side, as i have seen it, argues with data. Also, to my knowledge only one side has stooped to using pr firms with ties to the tobacco industry.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban