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Climate change clues from tiny marine algae -- ancient and modern
Date:2/4/2013

cean.

"This work provides us with a whole new way of looking at living and fossil coccolithophores," said lead author Dr Samantha Gibbs, Senior Research Fellow at University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science.

By comparing immaculately preserved and complete fossil cells with modern coccolithophore cells, the researchers could interpret how different species responded to the sudden increase in environmental change at the PETM, when atmospheric CO2 levels increased rapidly and the oceans became more acidic.

"We use knowledge of how coccolithophores build their calcite skeletons in the modern ocean to interpret how climate change 56 million years ago affected the growth of these microscopic plankton," said co-author Dr Alex Poulton, a Research Fellow at the National Oceanography Centre.

"This is a significant step forward and allows us to view fossils as cells rather than dead 'rocks'. Through this we can begin to understand the environmental controls on oceanic calcification, as well as the potential effects of climate change and ocean acidification."


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Contact: Catherine Beswick
catherine.beswick@noc.ac.uk
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK)
Source:Eurekalert  

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