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Earth's plant life: dying on land, dying at sea

By       Message Rob Kall     Permalink
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Boyce's shocking result: since 1899, phytoplankton has shown a long-term decline of about 40%, especially during the most recent years. The authors found declines in 8 of 10 ocean basins, and the declines were linked to rising sea surface temperatures.

Actually, this isn't too surprising. Cold water has always been good for phytoplankton, because cold water at the surface sinks, and is replaced by water from deeper in the ocean. This vertical mixing brings nutrients (which otherwise would have sunk) back to the surface, which is good for living things of all types. That's why whales, which can swim the whole length of the ocean, prefer cold water: more living things are there to eat.

So as sea surface temperatures increase, phytoplankton decrease which in turn reduces the ability of the oceans to act as a carbon sink, just like the land's ability is reduced. And another positive feedback loop makes the effect of CO2 emissions even worse.

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Finally, the next time someone claims that the temperature record has been biased too warm by parking lots or air conditioners, you can show them this nifty graphic, also from the NOAA report:tenseparate indicators of a warming globe, and an additional indicator (stratospheric temperature decline) that points to greenhouse gas as the culprit. These eleven indicators are comprised of fifty-five datasets published in peer-reviewed literature. (My personal favorite: oceanic heat content.)

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articles reprinted from Dailykos.com


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