Oceans Can Change, Forests Can’t: 25% to 30% reduction in size of plankton already

By May 31, 2010 February 21st, 2013 Oceans

This landmark study by the French National Center for Scientific Research, reveals the results of The Continuous Plankton Recorder Program that has been monitoring plankton species and abundance at Plymouth in the United Kingdom, every month since1946. They have been studying nearly 450 species of plankton in the North Atlantic and have found that a great mass migration has occurred in about the last ten years. It  also appears that the rising ocean temperatures is responsible for a 25% to 33% reduction in the size of the single and few celled animals called "primary productivity". These algae and tiny crustaceans are the forests of the oceans. They are what is responsible for everything else in the ocean. They are where the ocean ecosystem begins, just like the trees of the forest and they make about half of the oxygen on the planet too.

What does this mean for the ocean and the great carbon sink and oxygen on earth?  The scientists can’t say yet, this is a relatively new discovery and years of additional data will be required for the statistics to be proven.  But the obvious answer will likely be revealed.  When you reduce the size of the individuals that make a population, but their numbers remain the same, carbon sequestration will be less. Probably about 25% to 33% less, And the oxygen production?

This press release says that 84% of climate change occurs in the oceans. They do not explain what they mean by this, but some of the stats I have seen in other places show that only about 15% of the warming from greenhouse gases goes into raising the temperature of the planet. The rest goes into the great ocean heat sink and forestalls atmospheric warming, literally by two to three decades.  This of course means that atmospheric warming today is directly relative to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations from two to three decades ago and it will take another two to three decades for the true warming, that is being caused by greenhouse gas concentrations today, to actually be revealed.

Primary productivity in the oceans can change if it warms. Ocean currents allow the "trees" of the ocean forest, the primary productivity organisms, to change as fast as the currents change the water which can be 4 mph or more. Forests on land however cannot change in such a rapid manner.  When the ecological conditions that allow a forest to grow change, the trees die. What replaces them does so on a decadal or generational time frame, not at 4 mph.  The dead forest will remain dead, or it may grow back, smaller and different trees may grow. But it will take 100 years.

The pine bark beetle pandemic in the North American Rockies is over 20 times larger than the last largest pine beetle infestation known to have ever occurred. The size of this newest pandemic is increasing and forest professions see no reason that it will not continue to increase in size into the foreseeable future.

Press Release French National Center for Scientific Research