Taxonomy term

phytoplankton

Cretaceous volcanic ash seeded U.S. oilfields

Petroleum and natural gas stores are often found amid rocks — particularly ashbeds — deposited during the Cretaceous, when dinosaurs roamed Earth and abundant volcanic arcs lined the edges of the continents.

10 Jul 2018

Ice (Re)Cap: May 2017

From Antarctica to the Arctic; from polar caps, permafrost and glaciers to ocean-rafted sea ice; and from burly bears to cold-loving microbes, fascinating science is found in every nook and crevasse of Earth’s cryosphere, and new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.

12 May 2017

Above oil seeps, photosynthetic life flourishes

The direct effects of oil and gas releases in the ocean are typically negative — as in the case of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil well disaster, which devastated marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico. But scientists have now found that when natural oil and gas seeps upwell toward the ocean’s surface, they can also carry nutrients such as nitrates and nitrites from the seafloor that feed communities of phytoplankton, which flourish as a result.

30 May 2016

Ocean 'sneezes' spread algae-infecting virus

Microscopic phytoplankton, or microalgae, permeate ocean surfaces, sometimes forming huge blooms visible from space. Nutrient concentrations in seawater are known to regulate such blooms, which play a major role in oceanic food chains and carbon cycling, and occasionally prove harmful to other marine life as well as humans. Less understood are the other factors that influence a bloom’s onset and demise. New research sheds light on one such influence, demonstrating that an algae-infecting virus can become airborne and travel long distances, potentially infecting and eradicating parts of a bloom hundreds of kilometers away.
 
27 Aug 2015

Nutrient runoff feeding Baltic Sea dead zone

Low-oxygen, or hypoxic, deep waters now extend over an area of about 60,000 square kilometers in the Baltic Sea, a tenfold increase compared to 115 years ago, according to a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The hypoxic zone has fluctuated substantially in that period, but much of the expansion has occurred in recent decades as a result of large inputs of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from human activities such as agriculture, reported Jacob Carstensen of Aarhus University in Denmark and colleagues.
 

03 Sep 2014

Volcanic ash feed southern ocean plankton

Ash plumes from volcanoes in South America and elsewhere may spur large blooms of plankton in otherwise barren parts of the Southern Ocean, but maybe not for the reason scientists have suspected, according to a new study. Such blooms are of interest because they consume atmospheric carbon dioxide, although their overall effect on climate remains far from clear.
 

28 Aug 2014

Acid oceans followed Chicxulub impact

Within days after the massive Chicxulub impact that ended the Cretaceous Period 65.5 million years ago, a deluge of acid rain may have turned Earth’s ocean surfaces into suddenly inhospitable homes for a multitude of microorganisms, ultimately pushing them to extinction, according to a new study.
 

21 Aug 2014