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Researchers discover source of essential nutrients for mid-ocean algae
Date:6/24/2010

her algae can actively change their buoyancy, just like the Apex float, and either sink or float upwards.

Over the next year or two, Johnson and his fellow researchers will outfit several groups of drifters with nitrate and oxygen sensors. Some of these drifters will be deployed around Hawaii. Others will be deployed near Bermuda in the mid-Atlantic. Still other groups of drifters will be deployed in the far North Pacific and in the Southern Ocean, where nitrate supplies and algal growth are typically much higher than in mid-ocean areas.

Such studies of tiny algae in the open ocean may seem remote from human activities on land. Yet the oxygen produced by mid-ocean algae is essential for the survival of life on earth. Furthermore, these algae move huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the ocean, and thus play a significant role in controlling the earth's climate. As Johnson says, "The bugs you can't see with a microscope are doing all the work."


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Contact: Kim Fulton-Bennett
kfb@mbari.org
831-775-1835
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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