Seas of Change
In many ways, what Earth will look like in 50 to 100 years depends on how the tiniest sea creatures respond to warming oceans.
Credit: Karson Productions/National Science Foundation
Seas of change.
I'm Bob Karson with the Discovery Files, from the National Science Foundation.
(underwater sounds) (microbes party in bg) Marine microbes. These little guys don’t always get the props they deserve for the huge things they do. Like, say producing half the oxygen we breathe. And don’t get me started on their importance in the food chain supporting worldwide fisheries.
In many ways, what Earth will look like in fifty to a hundred years depends on how these tiny creatures respond to a changing climate. So what are their likely strategies for survival? (dramatic sting…duh duh duuh nuhhh)
A team at USC, working with the University of Edinburgh and NOAA, has developed a model to predict how these crucial microbes will adapt to warming waters. It’s a framework for understanding the response of different microorganisms to an assortment of variables, including human-caused changes in marine environments.
As the researchers tweaked the model with simulations of different conditions, the microbes responded two ways: Some changed easily, living for now, thriving, with little preparation for the future. Others took a long-term approach, evolving to be able to proliferate in large numbers once the temperature stabilized at a higher level.
Freely available to scientists, the study may contribute to the formulation of other climate change forecast models.
Might call it, ‘testing the waters’.
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