Southern Ocean Plankton Extinction Too Close For Comfort

Southern Ocean Plankton Extinction Too Close For Comfort

Peer reviewed scientific paper reports imminent doom if we don’t act now!

Vast Southern Ocean plankton pastures, presently the most productive of all the world’s seven seas, becoming clear blue deserts.

Collapse is reported by Australian led scientific consortia is caused by high and rising CO2 locked to diminishing ocean photosynthesis.

Only immediate sustainable ocean pasture restoration and stewardship will help to avert this doomsday scenario

The research, published by the Australian Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) on Thursday, revealed that phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean, which plays a key role in reducing atmospheric carbon, face extinction. All manner of ocean life there depends on a healthy Southern ocean plankton pasture for survival.

southern ocean krill is gone

Krill, tiny zoo-plankton, are one of the most vital and abundant organisms in the rich pastures of the Southern ocean. They are fast disappearing and dying off due to our high and rising CO2. Scientific reports on krill going back 70 years and more reveal 80% of the krill have disappeared in the past 30 years! – click to read more

Southern Ocean plankton pastures draw down carbon as their ocean micro-plants capture and convert atmospheric carbon just like grass and trees on the continents. The ocean phytoplankton capture CO2 as new biomass and sink vast amounts of it to the seafloor. They are fast becoming desolate clear blue ocean deserts.

The most powerful way that our modern world’s high and rising CO2 impacts the oceans is that it nourishes plant life on land as is seen in the Global Greening of the world. While many people imagine the Earth’s plant life is mostly trees in fact the Earth is covered mostly in grass.

OK but even so one might wonder, ‘How could more grass greening the Earth be a problem, especially how could it be a problem for the oceans?’  Ocean pastures, the phytoplankton, depend on dust that blows from the land to nourish and sustain their plant life. And today all around the world, More grass growing means less dust blowing. It is the mineral micronutrients especially iron in that dust that keeps the ocean plants healthy.

The terrible ‘feedback loop’ that is destroying ocean plant life is that as ocean plants, which are by far the largest natural force that reduces/mitigates CO2 in our atmosphere, disappear the levels of CO2 in the air grow ever more worse.

“The level of global atmospheric carbon would be around 50 percent higher without the uptake provided by Southern Ocean phytoplankton,” says the report’s principal author.

IMAS researchers show a clear trend of how the phytoplankton is affected by high and rising CO2 effects and while apparent in their detailed scientific observation it’s only slowly becoming recognized by the wider global community. They worry that by the time the crisis is widely recognized it will likely be too late to save the plankton.

The report points out that Southern Ocean pasture ecology is driven by the ice melt each year. In the spring, low salinity, high iron melt water is released from the sea ice, creating a buoyant layer of fresher water that traps phytoplankton in an environment where conditions are ideal for growth (high light, and high macro- and micronutrients, aka iron). This fosters large immensely productive phytoplankton blooms. During large blooms phytoplankton aggregate to form marine snow, which falls rapidly through the water column, contributing to carbon sequestration into the deep ocean

southern ocean plankton collapse

Summer ocean pasture green  chlorophyll concentration – Aqua satellite estimates during summer seasons between 2002 and 2015.

While it is clear that this most foundational part of the Southern Ocean plankton ecosystem is changing in ways that could have global implications, there remains uncertainty and debate over what the changes and their impact will bring.

“Phytoplankton are important because all marine life in the Southern Ocean rely on them ultimately as a food source. Changes to phytoplankton communities therefore could have significant implications for our environment and climate.”

“It’s unlikely that we’ll be able to identify clear trends until around 2050, by which time some big changes in phytoplankton communities will probably already have occurred and it will to be too late to consider mitigating them. While the changes in phytoplankton happen quite quickly they’ll take a very long time to reverse.” says the report.

We must act immediately to sustain what is left of vital Southern Ocean plankton pastures before our fossil fuel age carbon attack has sunk them into the abyss where hope of their restoration may become beyond our human abilities.

Restoring ocean pastures by replenishing the dust we deny them is proven, safe, sustainable and most importantly affordable and deployable today!

By restoring mineral dust to the oceans in remarkably tiny amounts, only parts per trillion are needed, revived ocean pasture plant life will consume and repurpose billions of tonnes of CO2 into additional ocean life. That revived ocean life will save and sustain the krill, fish, squid, seabirds, sealion, and whales and in the bargain billions of additional fish will swim into our nets and onto the plates of hungry people around the world.

The cost of deploying this proven technology following the metrics I have proven in my 2012 work that is the largest ocean restoration demonstration in history will be but a few million dollars each year!  As for evidence of what a restored ocean pasture delivers the within a year or few take a look at the news story below of the result of my 2012 work.

sitka news salmon story

My 2012 ocean pasture replenishment and restoration work in the NE Pacific returned the ocean to life as seen in the largest catch of salmon in all of history in Alaska the next year. CLICK TO READ MORE

Join me this year as my ships sail to restore ocean pastures in the World’s Seven Seas.

Referenced paper: