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Huge Phytoplankton Bloom Found Under Arctic Ice

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the basis-of-a-new-cocktail dept.

Earth 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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99 comments

I, for one (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250255)

I, for one, welcome our new phytoplankton underlords.

Re:I, for one (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250783)

You forgot to add how cool they are.

shocked? (0, Offtopic)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250279)

Why are scientists always "shocked" when they discover that they don't know everything about the world?

Re:shocked? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250361)

Because scientists are often full of themselves.

Re:shocked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250415)

Don't forget how TFA links this phenomenon to global warming

Re:shocked? (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250807)

Most people are full of themselves. Only the unlucky ones need transplants, and then they need all sorts of nasty medicines to keep themselves healthy. Thank you, I'd rather be full of myself than that.

Re:shocked? (1, Insightful)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251027)

Most people are full of themselves. Only the unlucky ones need transplants, and then they need all sorts of nasty medicines to keep themselves healthy. Thank you, I'd rather be full of myself than that.

You are completely right about that, I was prescribe amphetamine to treat my ADD, I became a douche as a side effect and learned that being full of oneself rocks. I got more promotion in the last year of medicinal amphetamine than I got in that interval : [started working, started taking l-lysine-d-amphetamine], I got to assfuck my gf for the first time in 5 year, bought a sport car and renovated my house. Yeah being a douche, full of myself, rocks !

Re:shocked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40253127)

woosh!

Re:shocked? (3, Insightful)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250375)

Because that's what the reporters put on paper?

Re:shocked? (2, Interesting)

aurispector (530273) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250379)

For the same reason they have such certainty about the things they think they "know". The whole global warming debate is a fascinating study of human psychology.

Re:shocked? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250647)

Ah yes, it is interesting...tut tut....vis a vis....ergo, ERGO! VIS A VIS!!!

Seriously though, it is interesting. For instance, someone people (maybe you) believe that the "radicals" are the climatologists instead of the people who created these billboards:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/may/04/heartland-institute-global-warming-murder

I mean, that shit doesn't even make sense.

Of course, you'll come back with the lame, intellectually weak "both sides do it" crap. That's how it works these days. You can be on the team represented by millions of dollars of corporate propaganda that in the most nasty of ways paints the entire climatology community as a sinister lying bunch of mooching conspirators--while on the other hand, science can have one or two people who made honest mistakes that don't really affect the big picture of whether AGW is real--and you'll say, uh, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Sorry, you can't split the difference between reasonable and batshit stupid / evil and call it a wash. Face the music. You're a mark. And you did not disappoint the ones who played you. Congrats.

Awesome: The world is flat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250705)

As a commenter to your link pointed out: Stalin thought the world was round. Holy shit, only mass murderers deny a flat EARTH!

Re:shocked? (0, Troll)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250883)

What's intellectually weak? Both sides do, do it. And let's be honest, you want batshit insane? Just look at the environmental movement. You've got people placing ads, where they blow up people for disagreeing. You've got speakers who believe that disagreement should be classified as a mental disorder. And you've got others who believe that anyone who disagrees should simply be murdered out of hand. Hey remember those "Australian scientists" who claimed that they were being targeted. What was the end result of the investigation? I'll give you a hint, but it was all bullshit.

And that's not even the best part. Then you get into the mainstream these days, who happily believe that wiping out 4b people is a-okay along with their Malthusian rhetoric.

Re:shocked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40252149)

Let's limit the "sides" to people who have an influence in US Congress. Then the batshit environmentalists tend to fall away and you are still left with the Heartland Institute.

So, hey, I guess you're still the fucking moron here. It's like your stupidity is a black hole and you're just wasting your energy trying to climb out of the horizon.

Re:shocked? (4, Informative)

a_mari_usque_ad_mare (1996182) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:shocked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40254055)

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.

There are also plenty of 'OHMIGOD CLIMATE CHANGE EVIL GOVERNMENT COPRORATIONS' movies out there. Just because you don't watch them, because you're a sane person, doesn't make them not exist.

Re:shocked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40252909)

Environmentalists can't hold a candle to animal rights and GM food protesters.

Re:shocked? (0)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250949)

For the same reason they have such certainty about the things they think they "know". The whole global warming debate is a fascinating study of human psychology.

It is very interesting to be sure. On slashdot folks get moded down for even a sideways critique of Global Warming. What this world is coming too.

Mode parent up!!

Re:shocked? (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251143)

I have never seen a knowledgeable critique of global warming on /.

I've seem people spout ignorance, use logical fallacies, repeat lies, but never a scientifically valid critique. There have been several in mainstream science, but they where looked at and proven not to actually be valid when compared with the data. That's science.

On /.? it's just republican rhetoric repeated with worse spelling.

Re:shocked? (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40252231)

Republican? Are we on the same /.?

Re:shocked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40258231)

I've seem people

but they where looked at

On /.? it's just republican rhetoric repeated with worse spelling.

Re:shocked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40254955)

"Mode"? Are you an idiot?

Re:shocked? (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40256599)

For the same reason they have such certainty about the things they think they "know". The whole global warming debate is a fascinating study of human psychology.

It is very interesting to be sure. On slashdot folks get moded down for even a sideways critique of Global Warming. What this world is coming too.

Mode parent up!!

It's the same for most controversial issues on Slashdot. Creationism vs Evolutionism for example. Post an comment that isn't in full support of evolution and you probably won't be able to count the milliseconds before you're at -1 and have 20 people calling you and idiot (or worse). This community is no different from any other community across the world really, it just thinks it is.

Re:shocked? (0)

lvxferre (2470098) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250383)

Even a little discovery amazes and shocks, is funny and beautiful, gives you hopes and delusions, at least for scientists. For them, science is the artist's wet dreams coming true.

Re:shocked? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250463)

Precisely. It's a giddy pleasure at gleaning another bit about our wonderful universe. Any decent scientist recognizes how little we know about the world, and every little bit we find out is a wonderful little treat. A better question is why most people think that being amazed by new discoveries is a negative...

Re:shocked? (0)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250869)

It's not really a new discovery when it's really just your assumptions, that nobody asked for, that turned out to be wrong. Unless you're Ralph Wiggums or something. But hey, while intellectuals are mostly slaves for power they might as well get "giddy" about finding bits of knowledge they are actually allowed to use, looking at the vast oceans of things we know but don't put to action, so millions and billions of people are creamed continually, we all need something to keep us distracted and pseudo-happy. We already KNOW the rain forests are teeming with life, look how useful that knowledge is to us, not to mention to the rain forests. No, we don't need more... cute stuff... we need spine. We already have too little of it to carry what we have.

When the party says so, science is suspended, this has been proven on 9/11 and not just then. So unless you deal with the party first, you're not scientist, you're a hack. Maybe a decent scientist, but not a great one. There are very few adult intellectuals alive today, as we don't live in times that encourage actual thought. We sure are drunk on the substitutes though... we have clear boundaries for futile discussion and collections of useless facts. Boys will be boys, and call themselves men... what a shocking discovery.

/randomness... and if you can't tell, I'm bitching at smart people because I expect better of them. Those that aren't shallow, easily distracted rollovers surely have similar gripes against their colleagues -- the rest can fuck themselves, being the specialized toys they are.

Re:shocked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40251007)

I'm quite frankly not sure what you are trying to say. Do you think that the "party" (what?) has manipulated science to prove their party line? Are you talking about global warming, or something else (wtf about 9/11)? Can you try proofreading before posting, too. Please.

Re:shocked? (0)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#40254281)

Read whatever the fuck you want into it, you'd prolly do that either way.

But actually, "the party" was a reference to Nineteen-Eightyfour. You know, science being suspended on her say so, the sun revolving around the Earth and all that? But if you must know re:9/11... the funny way materials melt/break and then disappear, or the way passports are picked out of exploded planes, or the way Bush saw the second plane hit the tower because "the TV was obviously on", and Colin Powell's sweaty, badly acted presentation in front of the UN... etc. etc. Seriously, there's less stuff that is scientifically sound about it than stuff that's utterly broken and hilarious if it wasn't so sad, and actually a case for criminal investigation instead of pouting and shaking fists.

Never mind. You had to be there.

Here's another one from literature: the Naked Emporor. See how "science" in that story is subverted by bootlicking? Surely you can see that. So yeah, there's plenty of examples of that going on in real life.

"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful."

-- Samuel Johnson

That was my point, and if you don't get it, you don't get it. But save me your strawmen and eye rolling, just move along if this is over your head. Also, proofreading? Get a fucking account before you make demands, k? It's not like you put the slightest thought into your response either, so wtf.

Re:shocked? (0)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#40254291)

Oh, one thing though: Well, by "so yeah, there's plenty examples of that in real life" didn't mean to say "The Naked Emperor" is a real life example: but that IMHO there are examples of that in real life. And it would be pointless to bicker out individual details of it, at least when it's outside your comfort zone... you likely wouldn't even had blinked if I had said that about the Soviet Union or China, go figure.

Still, fuck proofreading. If I proofread too much, I ALWAYS end up shrugging and thinking "why bother, people are fucking stupid and ungrateful" and closing the window. My input is only available instantly and sloppily, or not at all.

Re:shocked? (2)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250469)

There's a wide gap between finding out something you didn't know, and finding something contrary to whatever you've known up until now.

Re:shocked? (4, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251173)

Because the reporters want to sell headlines, and a scientist saying "huh, that's funny" doesn't sound as newsworthy as "I AM SHOCKED!"

(Also, the scientists probably look a bit googly-eyed during the interview, and the reporter doesn't realise that's just because of the coffee-fueled all-nighter instead of the bemusement.)

Re:shocked? (1)

Truth_Quark (219407) | more than 2 years ago | (#40252051)

They're not shocked to discover that they don't know everything about the world.

They're shocked to discover the Arctic Phytoplankton blooms appear to be so much larger than previously believed, having been measured mostly by satellite that doesn't see them through the sea ice.

Re:shocked? (1)

kermidge (2221646) | more than 2 years ago | (#40253539)

Maybe it's because scientists search, look, explore, measure, reason, and try to understand what and how and maybe even why things are the way they are; the surprise or shock comes from the unexpected, just like in real life - as distinct from the many here who apparently already know everything worth knowing about anything worth knowing about.

Re:shocked? (1)

Specter (11099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40258901)

Because the debate is over; the science settled.

How is plankton a good carbon sink? (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250289)

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

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (0)

14erCleaner (745600) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250393)

More warming means less ice, which should mean more sunlight and more plankton growth, hence more carbon tied up.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250681)

More plankton "eat" the carbon from the air..... that is true. But when the plankton die and rot, the carbon is released back into the air. It's a carbon neutral process, not a carbon sink.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251045)

But when the plankton die and rot, the carbon is released back into the air.

Doesn't always happen, especially on a seafloor. Oil and coal come from organisms that didn't rot.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251165)

"Oil and coal come from organisms that didn't rot."
I had to read that twice. Of course they rotted.

Also, they rotted and stayed trapped.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40255599)

I had to read that twice. Of course they rotted.

Scientifically, it's called decomposition [wikipedia.org] and it happens in the presence of oxygen and other organisms that reduce the dead organism to basic components. Particularly, with plants it releases carbon dioxide.

In an environment without oxygen, somewhat different processes happen and you can indeed have carbon trapped for useful periods of time.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251193)

You're making a false assumption: that the plankton rot when they die. Not everything does. There has to be the right environment for whatever bacteria or biological processes involved in rotting to take place. In many places, the right environment is not there. In the desert, it is too dry. Corpses mummify instead of rot. In peat bogs, there isn't enough oxygen, so things just more or less lie there. In these cases, the desert and the bog are carbon sinks. In the arctic, the ocean water is not terribly exposed to the air, so I imagine the oxygen content is fairly low. So the plankton may just settle to the bottom instead of rotting, and in the process take some carbon with it.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (3, Informative)

budgenator (254554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40252147)

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.

You don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250743)

You look at one contribution to the carbon dynamic and ignore the rest. You have to look at the whole system, all the components, all the dynamics, to know what a change in temp will do to the CO2 level.

In other words, you are a fucking idiot. Shut the hell up.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

Truth_Quark (219407) | more than 2 years ago | (#40252359)

More warming means less ice, which should mean more sunlight and more plankton growth, hence more carbon tied up.

There's not much [noaa.gov] evidence of this effect dominating increase due to accelerating fossil fuel use and land use change.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250403)

Photosynthesis CO2 + water + sunlight -> glucose + O2

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250459)

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.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250553)

where "awhile" means "hundreds of millions of years". You know what coal is?

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250559)

"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.

There's a huge difference between having to deal with global warming now (especially the catastrophes claimed by some) than a slightly elevated CO2 a few millennia or longer from now. Getting it out of sight for a while may well be the difference between being a problem now and never being a problem.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

Nationless (2123580) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250981)

Never be a problem for YOU.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40254375)

Not really.
Few sane people would argue that a slightly elevated CO2 count is a problem. Few would argue a highly elevated one isn't a problem.
The question is where on the scale do we lie?
If we could spread out what would be a highly elevated CO2 dump out over several thousand years then the short term highly elevated problem becomes a very long term very slightly elevated one and there is no problem for anyone.
Put it another way, the first cave man to build a fire did not cause global warming. The first steam engine did not cause global warming. Only when there are literally billions of these fires do we start to have a problem, if we can make these billions of fires look like a longer term one we're back to no problem.
Unless of course our descendants come up with a technology that is another CO2 source that competes with the natural CO2 sinks that nature has in place in which case they're just as guilty as we are and that then becomes an issue of cross generational ethics.
Worst case scenario then for me is we give our descendants a CO2 problem, let's hope we've built enough other cool things to make up for it. (for example, would your great-grandparents trade the global warming we face for sanitation an excess of food, life span and personal entertainment we pass onto the next western generation. I think they would call that a good trade, so we had better make sure we improve enough other things about life to make it worth the problems we pass on.)

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40255621)

Or anyone else either. As long as CO2 levels don't go below or exceed whatever thresholds society decides to set things at, then it doesn't matter if sequestration is temporary in a geological sense.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40251099)

Getting it out of sight for a while may well be the difference between being a problem now and never being a problem.

Really? So if we somehow store the problem someplace on a temporary basis we just *might* avoid all the dire predictions, dying polar bears, flooding coast lines and the like? How? By all accounts if the stuff gets out sometime, the problem just happens. Now you are you suggesting that the real problem is the *rate* at which we are releasing greenhouse gasses and not the quantity?

I've never heard this theory....

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251993)

Really? So if we somehow store the problem someplace on a temporary basis we just *might* avoid all the dire predictions, dying polar bears, flooding coast lines and the like? How?

Well, the way it happened without our intervention is that trees grew, and then they fell down and were covered over, and they eventually turned into oil.

One way we could sequester carbon would be to cut down trees and bury them in big holes in the ground.

Or, you know, we could raise trees, cut them down, and build things out of them. The problem is doing that more efficiently.

We could also raise algae and make plastics from it with solar thermal and solar PV as the power source. Yeah, I know it's a while before you break even on the panels, but it's only a third or so of their lifespan at worst in terms of energy cost. If the plastic were used in some context where it's not exposed to UV, it could lock in that carbon for a very long time.

There's probably lots of better ideas but these are some things we could do right now to sequester carbon in meaningful ways. I like bamboo and algae because they can grow on dirty water and the water gets cleaner as they do. Pump saltwater into the desert, grow algae, dump the water, replenishing the aquifer.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40255669)

Now you are you suggesting that the real problem is the *rate* at which we are releasing greenhouse gasses and not the quantity?

I've never heard this theory....

Are you trying to be sarcastic?

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250633)

>>>"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.

Disagree.
The carbon was VERY well sequestered for ~700 million years..... until humans came-along and start digging it out of coal mountains/oil wells and burning it. If humans had not done that, the carbon would still be sequestered under the ground and GW not an issue.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (-1, Flamebait)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250679)

The carbon was VERY well sequestered for ~700 million years..... until humans came-along and start digging it out of coal mountains/oil wells and burning it. If humans had not done that, the carbon would still be sequestered under the ground and GW not an issue.

You may not like it, but we are restoring the balance back to what it was so long ago. Who's to say that one way is better than the other? (unless you currently own beachfront property anyway)

Trying to do away with global warming in the end is about as futile as trying to do away with winter.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250907)

I know that the dinosaurs and giant bugs liked it back then... and i like it now. Hell if climate change weren't man made but still happening... we should still try to stop it or slow it so that the impact on civilization is minimized... we like to think that we can live through anything... but our real society hasn't been around that long and we don't really know all the pressures that can destabilize it and destroy everything we have done and built. Trying to slow or stop climate change will make the status quo last longer... which means we don't have to worry about the unknown unknowns... just the known unknowns... the known... If you want to try crazy survival in a global warming planet gone wrong... you can go to venus and give it a shot... but i would prefer Earth's climate stay somewhat static until we get out of this cradle of mankind. So... either put money into stopping/controlling climate change... or put money in NASA.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40251073)

If you 'really' want balance, then stop breathing, as Oxygen wasn't part of the original atmosphere.

Things change all the time. The carbon was naturally sequestered so that's the 'status quo' we measure against. WE are the ones who changed the situation.

For a thought experiment, what if we weren't burning oil, but a massive natural coal/oil fire was burning for 200 years putting out the equivalent of what we have. It's natural, but still going to cause massive upheaval to human existence. Wouldn't it make sense to try and put out the damn fire if we saw it causing problems that would affect us?

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251271)

I'm picturing you saying "Hey, nobody lives forever. Death and taxes, am I right?" after taking the stand at your murder trial.

But of course that would be stupid.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (4, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251339)

Who's to say that one way is better than the other?

An organism that's been selected over hundreds of millions of years to survive in the current climate. Like, I don't know, humans.

Sure, nothing is objectively better about an oxygen-rich atmosphere than a carbon-dioxide one. An anaerobic organism of the archean era would likely prefer it. But I breathe oxygen. How about you?

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251199)

Well, I have a feeling there was a pretty great carbon release about ~250 million years ago...
Look up "the great dying".

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250821)

Subduction takes care of it pretty well. All that marble isn't going to convert back into co2 any time soon.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251179)

If you can converted back into a liquid, you can get it out of the air*. While technically in the environment, being buried thousand of feet underground is a lot better then floating around in the air.

*no, not all of it. Get back down to a reasonable level.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (5, Insightful)

yuje (1892616) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250529)

They DO get buried away for millions of years. Where do you think petroleum and coal come from?

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (2)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251385)

Until we dig it out and burn it... ;)

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251685)

Exactly. This is also why we know that the excess carbon in the atmosphere is sourced from fossil fuels- gas and oil. Carbon has 3 sotopes 12, 13 and radioactive 14.Carbon in the atmosphere has all three in a certain percentage. Carbon that has been buried underground for a few million years - in the form of oil- has had all it's radioactive 14 changed to nitrogen. When it's burned again in our cars and smokestacks, the newly released non-14 carbon increases the percentage of isotopes 12 and 13 in the atmosphere relative to what it was.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 2 years ago | (#40254533)

This is also why we know that the excess carbon in the atmosphere is sourced from fossil fuels- gas and oil. Carbon has 3 sotopes 12, 13 and radioactive 14.Carbon in the atmosphere has all three in a certain percentage. Carbon that has been buried underground for a few million years - in the form of oil- has had all it's radioactive 14 changed to nitrogen. When it's burned again in our cars and smokestacks, the newly released non-14 carbon increases the percentage of isotopes 12 and 13 in the atmosphere relative to what it was.

Is anyone actually recording the carbon isotope ratios in fossil fuels? Or measuring the use of fossil fuels along with how well they are combusted
What's actually needed to create carbon 14 are thermal neutrons. In the atmosphere the most common reaction is going to be nitrogen 14 gaining a neutron and losing a proton. With fossil fuels neutron capture by carbon 13 would produce carbon 14. Something which is likely to happen in coal than oil, considering that carbon is an effective neutron moderator.
In the atmosphere carbon 14 is a very small fraction (something like 1 part per trillion) across all carbon containing gasses. You'd need to be very careful in both selecting and processing samples to avoid contamination.
Ratios of oxygen isotopes (typically water) are a proxy for temperature. Has anyone checked if something similar occurs with methane or carbon dioxide?

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (2)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40254969)

Is anyone actually recording the carbon isotope ratios in fossil fuels?

Yes.

From:

http://bgc.mpg.de/service/iso_gas_lab/publications/PG_WB_IJMS.pdf [bgc.mpg.de]

In contrast, current annual fossil fuel burning amounts to about 6 Gt of carbon. About half of this amount is observed as an increase of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. The other half is sequestered by other compartments. Currently, both the oceans and the terrestrial system show a net uptake of carbon [6]. The oxygen and carbon isotopic compositions of individual components, in particular air-CO2 provide a potentially powerful tool towards quantifying the contribution of different components to ecosystem exchange. When this is used in conjunction with concentration or ïux measurements, further insight can be gained into the sources and sinks of CO2 in the ecosystem [7,8].

Plant photosynthesis discriminates against 13 C. In other words, plant carbon tends to have less 13 C than the CO2 from which it is formed (Fig. 1). This discrimination provides a tool for interpreting changes in 13C of atmospheric CO2

Also:

How do we know where the carbon comes form?

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-co2-increases-are-due-to-human-activities/ [realclimate.org]

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/ [realclimate.org]

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (5, Informative)

blibbler (15793) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250831)

Good point(s).

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251229)

"the dead plankton may be cooked at 70-80 degrees and transform into oil and gas."
you mean..rot?

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (2)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 2 years ago | (#40252047)

Rotting tends to mean decomposing by bacterial action - which use the material as a food source immediately and then expel CO2.

He's talking about thermal depolymerisation without bacteria or oxygen. Because it hasn't oxidised, it can be used as a fuel source later.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250999)

Um... most plankton get eaten. Then those that eat it get eaten and so on up the food chain. Those that do die uneaten, along with their predators that die, sink to the bottom of the ARCTIC. Stuff doesn't rot down there. It just piles up frozen.

Re:How is plankton a good carbon sink? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40261565)

A plankton BOOM is a carbon sink, because the plankton mass is growing. Besides that, other people already pointed that some of the mass of dead plankton take a long time off the athmosphe.

Hot photos (5, Informative)

BadPirate (1572721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250377)

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

http://spiff.ucsd.edu/chaos.gif [ucsd.edu]

Re:Hot photos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250671)

Mmmh, I'm pretty sure I have a similar bloom in my hot water tank.

Re:Hot photos (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250753)

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

http://spiff.ucsd.edu/chaos.gif [ucsd.edu]

I genuinely feared a resurrection of goatse when contemplating clicking this link...

CO2 injection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250597)

Quote: "The finding implies that the Arctic is much more productive than previously thought, and might help to explain why Arctic waters have proven such a good carbon dioxide sink, the researchers say."

If this is the ultimate CO2 sink, why aren't we shipping CO2 from sequestration plants there, for injection, instead of injecting it underground where everyone agrees it doesn't belong?

JJ

Re:CO2 injection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250963)

instead of injecting it underground where everyone agrees it doesn't belong?

Where do you think it came from....it came from underground in the form of oil and coal. Our 'method' of injection is ridiculous and stupid since we're trying to inject it in the gaseous form rather than binding it to something more stable to make a 'solid' that won't react naturally.

Heck, we could literally grow trees and put them down in an anaerobic environment in abandoned mines and that would be better.

Re:CO2 injection (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#40256091)

How do you leap from good to ultimate without a blink?

And everyone does not agree is doesn't belong in the ground, it is where is came from in the first place,

All part of the plan... (1)

mj1856 (589031) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250761)

1. Bloom to record sizes in the Arctic!
2. Steal the Krabby Patty secret formula!
3. Rule the world!
4. Profit!!!

Firaxis predicted it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250763)

Planet is awakening

Re:Firaxis predicted it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40258957)

Oh I loved that game. It was the best of the Civ series even today. I think I'll go reinstall it tonight.

It's the cold water that contains the food (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250819)

It's the cold water that contains the food, not the warm water, so from that perspective this is not odd at all

Don't You Love Posts Like This? Who knew? (-1, Flamebait)

fygment (444210) | more than 2 years ago | (#40250849)

Who knew Arctic waters were CO2 sinks? Never heard that one till now. It's not like you see a post here on /. saying "Don't forget that the Arctic Ocean is a CO2 so maybe ..."

And who knew the plankton blooms could be so big? You would almost think that biologists knew it all, and then something like this happens Or life is discovered in an impossible place where it was never thought it could survive.

So much still to be discovered by those who study our planet. So much is unknown. And yet ... the climate models are accurate and the source of all climate ills is human. So let's implement sweeping policy changes and apply engineering measures to control the atmosphere, the water, the land.

Yeah, whatever.

Re:Don't You Love Posts Like This? Who knew? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40250969)

What kind of bizarre logic is this you're following here?

Scientists discover new things, therefore science should be ignored?

I'm not arguing in favor of sweeping policy changes, but the parallel you are trying to draw between the discovery of life behaving in unanticipated ways and the argument about AGW doesn't hold any water, arctic or otherwise...

Re:Don't You Love Posts Like This? Who knew? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40251009)

Dude... GW isn't true???? You will quickly be modded down on Slash Dot for that....! Join the collective or be destroyed!

Re:Don't You Love Posts Like This? Who knew? (4, Insightful)

lessthan (977374) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251145)

Do you like the smell of smog? I would hazard a guess that you do not. Fine, you don't believe in global warming. I disagree with you, but won't bother to argue the point. Maybe you should jump on the green bandwagon for the better quality environment it provides you? Stuff like smog, acid rain, and the hole in the ozone layer have become less of a problem because we implemented 'sweeping policy changes' and 'engineering measures' to solve the issue.

Oil is going away, shouldn't we figure out what to do next?

Isn't energy efficiency better that waste?

What exactly about the global warming policies do you disagree with that wouldn't lead to a cleaning, smarter, stronger future?

Re:Don't You Love Posts Like This? Who knew? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40251991)

What exactly about the global warming policies do you disagree with that wouldn't lead to a cleaning, smarter, stronger future?

Nothing whatsoever. It's just that some of us hate all absolutism.

Re:Don't You Love Posts Like This? Who knew? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40255527)

hate all absolutism

oh, the irony

Re:Don't You Love Posts Like This? Who knew? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40256349)

Dumb people are dumb? Who knew? ;)

Re:Don't You Love Posts Like This? Who knew? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40252255)

He'll have to pay more for petrol, so he will have to re-think owning a huge SUV. He also thinks you're going to take away his guns because that's what people like you do to people like him, apparently.

Re:Don't You Love Posts Like This? Who knew? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251215)

Climate models are accurate. But you don't understand how models work.
Can new data change a current view? yes. Does that mean all views are wrong? no.

The climate model is working pretty well.

And large blooms mean the situation is worse, not better.
There is a lot we don't know about gravity, does that mean we should throw out the current model of gravity?
A lot is unknown about germs, does this mean we throw out are model of germ theory?

" So let's implement sweeping policy changes and apply engineering measures to control the atmosphere, the water, the land."
That's a extreme view sold by the jackasses at fox. we want a policy so future decision can be made with it in mind.

Re:Don't You Love Posts Like This? Who knew? (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#40251219)

so, let's start burning shit and pumping crap into dogs mouths, right?
Because no one knows anything, and we can do whatever we want!!!!!!!
*lol*

Oblig. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40252761)

This sounds like another "college educated" plan to get the recipe for those Crabby Patties. Look out Mr. Crabs!

Huge what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40253685)

No pic, so is it a bloom of huge phytoplankton or a huge bloom of phytoplankton?

Apparently - Methane (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40254727)

Apparently there is a huge resevoir of Methane under both the polar and south polar icecaps. It's a biological chemical useful for bio-ecosystems. But also as it's released it will reduce global temperatures.

It's a large part of why it's called "Climate Change", and not "Global Warming".

Re:Apparently - Methane (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40255169)

Sayest thou what?!

Methane is a greenhouse gas - releasing more of it should increase temperatures, not decrease them.

Re:Apparently - Methane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40258607)

Sorry, you are incorrect. Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and release of methane trapped on the arctic seafloor will not reduce global temperatures.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clathrate_gun_hypothesis [wikipedia.org]

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