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How climate change could impact algae in the global ocean

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Scientists sample a brown mat of aggregated phytoplankton. Credit: Katrin Schmidt Global warming is likely to cause abrupt changes to important algal communities because of shifting biodiversity ‘break point’ boundaries in the oceans—according to research from the University of East Anglia and the Earlham Institute.

A new study, published today in the journal Nature Communications , finds that as climate change extends the warm hemisphere, these boundaries are predicted to shift pole-wards over the next 100 years.

Instead of a gradual change in microbial diversity due to warming, the researchers suggest it will happen more abruptly at what they call ‘break points’ – wherever the upper ocean temperature is around 15 degrees on an annual average, separating cold and warm waters.

The UK is one of the areas most likely to be severely affected, and more suddenly than previously thought. But the team say that the changes could be stopped if we act swiftly to halt climate change.

Prof Thomas Mock, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “Algae are essential in maintaining a healthy ecosystem to balance ocean life. By absorbing energy from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water, they produce organic compounds for marine life to live off.

“These organisms underpin some of […]

Click here to view original web page at phys.org

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