Will rising CO2 damage the world's oceans? Not so much

Tests show key processes will be undisturbed come 2100

Those who fear that the oceans and their ability to support life on Earth may be doomed by rising CO2 – take heart!

A recent scientific study shows that one of the basic engines of the ocean, namely the life cycle of phytoplankton, will probably not be disrupted by the rising levels of carbon dioxide to be expected later this century.

This is important stuff, as the tiny life-forms are the basis of all ocean food chains and life cycles in turn, as well as being critical to the process of turning CO2 into life-giving oxygen while absorbing solar energy (and thus removing heat from the sea).

We are told:

The study grew phytoplankton at the high carbon dioxide levels predicted for the year 2100 and beyond.

The samples were allowed to evolve through 400 generations, with some exposed to varying levels of CO2 and some kept at constant CO2 levels.

Researchers found that samples exposed to fluctuating CO2 levels was better able to cope with further changes in conditions, compared with those grown in stable CO2 levels.

The finding suggests that populations ... will adapt more to the varied conditions expected in future than was previously thought based on experiments at stable conditions.

All this should mean that the oceans of the world will still be able to perform their traditional miracles of sequestering carbon away into the ocean depths, absorbing heat, generating oxygen for us to breathe and so on.

The new science is published here. ®

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