Monday, October 17, 2016

New Zealand plankton blooms proof of global warming's oceanic effects

  During coccolithophore blooms, the algae's calcium-derived exoskeletons turn the ocean water a milky white. The microorganism's proliferation can often be seen from space.

Satellites passing over New Zealand in recent months have documented a series of coccolithophore blooms off the island nation's east coast. According to a new study published in the journal Global and Planetary Change, coccolithophore blooms and the microfossils they leave behind offer evidence of global warming's oceanic effects.

The tiny calcified scales left behind by the algae are called coccoliths. In addition to forming world famous coastlines, like England's White Cliffs of Dover, the microfossils can also help scientists study ancient oceanic conditions.

Researchers from Victoria University of Wellington used coccoliths, as well as ship and satellite observations, to map the movement of modern and ancient coccolithophore blooms.

The latest data suggest blooms are moving southward as the ocean warms and seas calm. Coccolith deposits revealed similar patterns from 130,000 years ago, when global ocean temperatures last rose.

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