Researchers at Oregon State University, NASA and other institutions announced today the discovery of a method to determine from outer space the productivity of marine phytoplankton – a breakthrough that may provide a new understanding of life in the worlds oceans.
Phytoplankton are the incredibly abundant microscopic plant forms that provide the basis for most of the marine food chain, half the oxygen in our atmosphere and ultimately much of the life on Earth. They have rapid growth rates and are constantly being produced and consumed in huge amounts – but until now, it was impossible to determine their rate of growth on any broad, useful scale.
The new findings, which were developed with funding from NASA and the National Science Foundation, have been published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, a professional journal. A group of scientists also explained the new study today in a national teleconference. "The new information on phytoplankton growth rates and biomass will greatly advance our understanding of the Earths oceans," said Michael Behrenfeld, a research professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at OSU.
Michael Behrenfeld | EurekAlert!
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