Arctic phytoplankton

Ocean acidification triggered by climate change seems to cause less harm to the Arctic phytoplankton, which is resistant to the changes in climate that affect the Arctic Ocean’s coastal waters, as reported in a study released by Canadian researchers and the German Alfred Wegener Institute in the journal Nature Climate Change.

This resilience could be caused by the fact that the phytoplankton in this area is accustomed to harsh and unpredictable climatic conditions.

In winter, the microalgae in this area live in complete darkness and in summer are continuously exposed to light. In addition, they are sometimes found in clear, salt water, while sometimes in turbid freshwater in rivers.

For the team of Clara Hoppe of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), such natural circumstances made the Arctic phytoplankton more adaptable. The same is true for their productivity and the development of microalgae populations.

Researchers conducted trials on natural microalgae populations, exposing them to various temperatures, light levels, and water of different levels of acidification. They observed that they are more adaptable to change than their counterparts for other oceans.

The elevated level of CO2 in the atmosphere results in a higher concentration of CO2 in the water. At this point, CO2 from the water binds with the carbonic acid and improves the water’s acidification process. The acidification is more pronounced in the Arctic in comparison to the more stable environmental conditions found in other oceans of the world.

Other impacts of climate change are sea temperature increase and the change in light intensity caused by lower sea levels.

Microalgae provide an invaluable resource for whales, seals and other marine species that live in the Arctic Ocean, therefore, the fact that the Arctic phytoplankton is resistant to climate change is definitely beneficial.

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