Remote ‘marine deserts’ and dense plankton blooms could provide scientists with clues for understanding climate change.
A research team will set sail from Southampton, Friday, 17th September 2004, for the start of an expedition to study the interaction between the atmosphere and plankton – tiny floating marine organisms. By monitoring these organisms and the influence of changing climate on their growth, they hope to discover whether they act as a source of carbon dioxide, or a ‘sink’ in which the carbon is contained.
Dr Andy Rees, Principal Scientist on the ship said ‘The ship will pass close to the coast of Africa, where we hope to find large numbers of plankton, called blooms. These blooms may be due to nutrient rich water rising to the surface or to dust, laden with nutrients, blown across from the Sahara providing food for the plankton. These areas act as natural chimneys of gases which contribute to global warming. We will have the opportunity to sample some hugely contrasting environments because of the meeting of waters from the northern and southern hemispheres. We will compare this area with barren desert regions of the Atlantic where there are very small numbers of plankton.’
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