Increased carbon dioxide enhances plankton growth, opposite of what was expected

Science study reports that coccolithophores’ abundance has increased by an order of magnitude since 1960s, significantly changing ocean garden

From the BIGELOW LABORATORY FOR OCEAN SCIENCES

45 years of data show coccolothiphores growth is enhanced with increasing ocean acidification. CREDIT Ocean Ecology Laboratory, Ocean Biology Processing Group NASA Goddard Space Center

45 years of data show coccolothiphores growth is enhanced with increasing ocean acidification. CREDIT
Ocean Ecology Laboratory, Ocean Biology Processing Group NASA Goddard Space Center

Coccolithophores–tiny calcifying plants that are part of the foundation of the marine food web–have been increasing in relative abundance in the North Atlantic over the last 45 years, as carbon input into ocean waters has increased. Their relative abundance has increased 10 times, or by an order of magnitude, during this sampling period. This finding was diametrically opposed to what scientists had expected since coccolithophores make their plates out of calcium carbonate, which is becoming more difficult as the ocean becomes more acidic and pH is reduced.

These findings were reported in the November 26th edition of Science and based on analysis of nearly a half century of data collected by the long-running Sir Alister Hardy Foundation (SAHFOS) Continuous Plankton Recorder sampling program.

“The results show both the power of long-term time-series of ocean observations for deciphering how marine microbial communities are responding to climate change and offer evidence that the ocean garden is changing,” said Dr. William Balch, senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and a co-author of the paper. “We never expected to see the relative abundance of coccolithophores to increase 10 times in the North Atlantic over barely half a century. If anything, we expected that these sensitive calcifying algae would have decreased in the face of increasing ocean acidification (associated with increasing carbon dioxide entering the ocean from the burning of fossil-fuels). Instead, we see how these carbon-limited organisms appear to be using the extra carbon from CO2 to increase their relative abundance by an order of magnitude.

“This provides one example on how marine communities across an entire ocean basin are responding to increasing carbon dioxide levels. Such real-life examples of the impact of increasing CO2 on marine food webs are important to point out as the world comes together in Paris next week at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change,” Balch added.

“Something strange is happening here, and it’s happening much more quickly than we thought it should,” said Anand Gnanadesikan, associate professor in the Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins and one of the study’s five authors.

Gnanadesikan said the Science report certainly is good news for creatures that eat coccolithophores, but it’s not clear what those are. “What is worrisome,” he said, “is that our result points out how little we know about how complex ecosystems function.” The result highlights the possibility of rapid ecosystem change, suggesting that prevalent models of how these systems respond to climate change may be too conservative, he said.

Coccolithophores are often referred to as “canaries in the coal mine.” Some of the key coccolithophore species can outcompete other classes of phytoplankton in warmer, more stratified and nutrient-poor waters (such as one might see in a warming ocean). Until this data proved otherwise, scientists thought that they would have more difficulties forming their calcite plates in a more acidic ocean. These results show that coccolithophores are able to use the higher concentration of carbon derived from CO2, combined with warmer temperatures, to increase their growth rate.

When the percentage of coccolithophores in the community goes up, the relative abundance of other groups will go down. The authors found that at local scales, the relative abundance of another important algal class, diatoms, had decreased over the 45 years of sampling.

The team’s analysis was of data taken from the North Atlantic Ocean and North Sea since the mid-1960s compiled by the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey. The CPR survey was launched by British marine biologist Sir Alister Hardy in the early 1930s. Today it is carried on by the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Sciences and is conducted by commercial ships trailing mechanical plankton-gathering gear through the water as they sail their regular routes. Dr. Willie Wilson, formerly a senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory, is now director of SAHFOS.

“In the geological record, coccolithophores have been typically more abundant during Earth’s warm interglacial and high CO2 periods. The results presented here are consistent with this and may portend, like the “canary in the coal mine,” where we are headed climatologically,” said Balch.

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201 thoughts on “Increased carbon dioxide enhances plankton growth, opposite of what was expected

  1. As with all cagw holy tenets, I’m sure someone will be able to spin this into worse than we thought.

    • It IS ….’worse than THEY thought’ !

      “What is worrisome,” he said, “is that our result points out how little we know about how complex ecosystems function.”

      THEY are slowly discovering nature looks after itself…. in its own timescale, without the help of ‘Green Zealots’ & THEY are redundant with no obvious reason for THEM to be here.

      • Something always has to be worse than they thought. They always need more money to investigate whatever is worrisome. They’ll never say, “10x faster growth is wonderful. Everybody stop worrying and be happy.”

      • “Everybody stop worrying and be happy.”
        Least likely government message. Ever.

        Time for the Mencken quote:
        “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

    • The process is called photosynthesis, but don’t expect the climate change idiots to understand that process. Many commercial greenhouse growers use tanks of CO2 to enhance the growth rate of the plants that they grow and sell.

      • Photosynthesis is exactly what the phylum of things we call plants does for a living – they make CO2 into carbon and oxygen. The fact they expand their population is exactly what would be expected as their food supply increases. The only thing having the opposite effect would be a lack of sunlight. Ne surprises here!

      • “The authors found that at local scales, the relative abundance of another important algal class, diatoms, had decreased over the 45 years of sampling.”

        Aren’t they aware of natural seesaws that take place chaotically as in the predator-prey paradigm?

      • NW sage November 27, 2015 at 5:15 pm
        Photosynthesis is exactly what the phylum of things we call plants does for a living – they make CO2 into carbon and oxygen.

        They certainly don’t, they make CO2 into carbohydrates, they make oxygen from water.

      • Tom Yoke, please don’t parade your ignorance about photosynthesis. ALL the oxygen comes from the splitting of H2O using energy obtained from sunlight. It is a complicated multi step process.
        The equation could be better written as 6CO2 + 12 H2O –> C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O but it would be silly to write it like that.

    • The great thing about the Climate doomsday cult is that it provides a very flexible narrative for its believers. Here, they just need to make a slight modification to the prior talking point. The original talking point was “mass extinction of Cocolithphores, brought on by climate change, threatens the foundation of the marine food web”. Gosh, that sounds bad.

      This will now become: “Explosion of invasive Coccolithophores, brought on my climate change, threaten the the foundation of the marine food web” Gosh, that sounds bad.

      • You missed the point… they can head-line “Climate Change catastrophe! Due to increasing CO2 Coccolithophores are dying at are rate 10 times that of 50 years ago!” – neglecting to mention of course that there are 10 times as many to begin with!

        maybe I should apply for a script writing position….

    • I love the way they concluded that the coccolithophores were not responding as they “should”.
      Not, “as we thought they would”.
      The ego of these guys is breath taking.

    • This finding was diametrically opposed to what scientists had expected since coccolithophores make their plates out of calcium carbonate, which is becoming more difficult as the ocean becomes more acidic and pH is reduced.

      “is becoming more difficult” Is it?

      Yes that’s right. The biosphere should have been destroyed millions of years ago based on ASSUMPTIONS. And so there is ”climate science’. Assumptions are the mother of all fvckups. Hours, days, seasons or what???

      Abstract – 2011
      Will ocean acidification affect marine microbes?
      ……….Useful comparisons can be made with microbes in other aquatic environments that readily accommodate very large and rapid pH change. For example, in many freshwater lakes, pH changes that are orders of magnitude greater than those projected for the twenty second century oceans can occur over periods of hours. Marine and freshwater assemblages have always experienced variable pH conditions. Therefore, an appropriate null hypothesis may be, until evidence is obtained to the contrary, that major biogeochemical processes in the oceans other than calcification will not be fundamentally different under future higher CO2/lower pH conditions.
      http://www.nature.com/ismej/journal/v5/n1/full/ismej201079a.html
      ———————–

      Abstract – December 19, 2011
      Gretchen E. Hofmann et al
      High-Frequency Dynamics of Ocean pH: A Multi-Ecosystem Comparison
      ………. These observations reveal a continuum of month-long pH variability with standard deviations from 0.004 to 0.277 and ranges spanning 0.024 to 1.430 pH units. The nature of the observed variability was also highly site-dependent, with characteristic diel, semi-diurnal, and stochastic patterns of varying amplitudes. These biome-specific pH signatures disclose current levels of exposure to both high and low dissolved CO2, often demonstrating that resident organisms are already experiencing pH regimes that are not predicted until 2100……..

      …..and (2) in some cases, seawater in these sites reaches extremes in pH, sometimes daily, that are often considered to only occur in open ocean systems well into the future [46]. …..
      DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028983
      http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0028983
      ———————–

      Abstract – 1 March 2013
      Is Ocean Acidification an Open-Ocean Syndrome? Understanding Anthropogenic Impacts on Seawater pH
      …Changes in the watershed can, for example, lead to changes in alkalinity and CO2 fluxes that, together with metabolic processes and oceanic dynamics, yield high-magnitude decadal changes of up to 0.5 units in coastal pH. Metabolism results in strong diel to seasonal fluctuations in pH, with characteristic ranges of 0.3 pH units, with metabolically intense habitats exceeding this range on a daily basis. The intense variability and multiple, complex controls on pH implies that the concept of ocean acidification due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions cannot be transposed to coastal ecosystems directly….
      http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12237-013-9594-3

    • If I’m not mistaken, Calcium Carbonate requires the availability of Carbon, which would accompany the solution of more CO2 in the ocean water.

      So CO2 would in that sense seem a plus.

      Maybe those ” coccolithophores ” are more interested in having carbon available than they care about pH.

      Imagine (if you will) a cubic meter of ordinary sea water; maybe a one square meter cylinder one meter deep, in an insulated tub, inside a large room containing ordinary air, and temperature stabilized to say 25 deg. C or 77 deg. F something like an oceanic temperature. The whole room is temperature stabilized to be 77 deg. F so there are NO temperature gradients.

      Now I suppose given time, it would become 100% relative humidity in that room; but we will maintain one meter depth of water after a steady state is reached, with no further evaporation.

      We will also allow CO2 addition to the room to compensate the atmosphere for the loss of CO2 into that sea water, per Henry’s law, so that eventually, the CO2 in the water will reach an equilibrium value also.

      So now we can measure the Henry’s law equilibrium level of CO2 in 25 deg. C sea water.

      So now we want to activate some cooling coils surrounding the water cylinder, which is thermally insulated from the room air, which must remain at 25 deg. C.

      What we want the cooling coils to do is to maintain the surface Temperature still at precisely 25 deg. C but we want to cool the bottom at one meter depth. Let’s go for a one degree C cooling at the bottom, and a linear temperature gradient of one deg. C per meter. (just to have a number). We now will have a surface to bottom heat flow, so the coils at the surface must supply that heat, so as to not upset the surface air water boundary temperature.

      It might also be a good idea to actually separate the water air interface, with say a thin Mylar film so that there no longer can be an exchange of molecules between water and air.

      So now we have a volume of water with a one deg. C per meter temperature gradient, and a surface CO2 concentration at the Henry’s law equilibrium value, that initially is that value all the way to the bottom.

      Well now you have a problem. The CO2 molecules are moving about however they do in sea water, randomly diffusing in all directions. But now we have colder water under the surface water, and that colder water, is capable of holding a slightly higher amount of dissolved CO2 under Henry’s law.

      So more CO2 molecules will move downward from hot to cold, than move upward from cold to hot.

      Eventually we will have a CO2 concentration gradient (in whatever form CO2 wants to exist in sea water), and the colder bottom water will contain a higher CO2 concentration, and the surface layer will be CO2 depleted below its Henry’s law value.

      If we now remove the Mylar film and reconnect the air water interface, the depleted surface water, will now accept more CO2 from the atmosphere, and the concentration gradient due to the temperature gradient, will pump that added CO2 towards the bottom, until eventually the surface CO2 comes into balance.

      If the water depth were much greater, and the Temperature gradient was maintained down to a greater depth, as in the real ocean, we can see that in fact the ocean is continually pumping CO2 down to the depths, and depleting the surce CO2 below the Henry’s law value.

      Now suppose that the atmosphere is returning LWIR radiation energy to the surface water, and raising the Temperature of the very surface layer.

      This off course would enhance surface evaporation of water, and energy escape, but the raised surface layer temperature will further lower the surface CO2 by depletion from below by the water Temperature gradient.

      So under a steady state temperature condition, the water surface will be a little warmer that the main body of the water, which also has a temperature gradient going down with depth, and the surface film will be depleted in CO2 over the expected value at that AIR temperature; and there still will be a net pumping of CO2 out of the atmosphere into the lower depths of the cooler ocean water.

      Now during the daylight hours, the ocean will be absorbing short wave solar energy at various depths, and so the ocean will warm at those belwo surface depths,

      But because of the surface depletion of CO2, by the downward pump, the surface CO2 will not rise back up to the Henrys law saturation level at which the ocean would outgas CO2 back into the atmosphere.

      Well of course, all those numbers will rattle around and reach a consistent set; but the end result is that the atmosphere ocean interface does not reach some static CO2 transport condition equally in both directions for that Temperature; but is continually pumping CO2 from the atmosphere into the deeper colder waters, from which those delightful cocolithophores can extract their calcium carbonate skeletons.

      The ocean is a much more efficient absorber of CO2 that it pumps to the depths, than it is as an outgasser of CO2 at warmer temperatures, because the constant pumping action keeps the surface film always depleted in CO2 from the Henry’s law value, so small temperature increases do not result in immediate reversal of the CO2 flow.

      That is why if all excess man made CO2 emissions were to cease, the ocean can go on pumping CO2 until all of that excess is gone.

      And that is why I do not believe the so-called Bern model of residence time.

      Ocean uptake seems to me to be one of the biggest if not the biggest contributor to the rapid drop of 6ppm of CO2 in five months in the ML CO2 numbers.

      Whatever it is that drives the CO2 up 6-7 ppm in the subsequent seven months of the year, it is NOT shutting off the ocean uptake system, which operates pretty much the same 12 months of the year in the tropical and temperate oceans.

      So I don’t believe any 1,000 year or even a 40 year ” residence time ” for CO2 in the atmosphere.

      g

  2. “Something strange is happening here” “What is worrisome is that our result points out how little we know about how complex ecosystems function.”
    Well, who’d have thunk it? So, they are utterly clueless as to how the carbon (or indeed any other) cycle works in the oceans. Buy, hey, CO2 induced global warming is a disaster and we must reconstruct the entire world economy with taxes and multi-$bn green projects as a result.
    All sounds logical to me!

    • The take away on ariches lIke this….wow, we were wrong about X, Y and Z, illustrating we haven’t the foggiest idea of how a million and one things that affect the climate really work, but doggone it our models showing we’re all going to roast to death by (pick a year far enough in the future where you’ll be dead and gone) are RIGHT AND UNASSAILABLE because consensus. So shut up and give us your money, we’ve got a planet to “save”.

      • Of course, it never occurred to the authors of this paper that there has been no ocean acidification whatsoever and the only place it can be found is in alarmist speculation.

      • The warmist position is nothing but speculation canonized by the IPCC all of which is all predicated on a linearization error made back in the very first IPCC technical report. The error is justifying the sensitivity as degrees per W/m^2 by claiming that it’s linear over a range, which of course is true, except that the average is a slope dictate by Stefan-Boltzmann and not a slope passing through zero.

        The 20K little dots are the monthly average emissions of the planet vs. average surface temperature for constant latitude slices of the planet. The larger dots are the average across all 3 decade of weather satellite data used to produce this (ISCCP data from GISS). The green line is the ideal behavior of a gray body whose emissivity is 0.62. The green and magenta lines bound the sensitivity per Stefan-Boltzmann and the blue line is the sensitivity claimed by the IPCC. If the behavior of an unknown system is that of an ideal gray body, what can justify a sensitivity many times larger than the gray body its behaving like?

        The error was ignored because the result fit the requirements for establishing the IPCC which by becoming the arbiter of what is and what is not climate science will never get this right, because to do so undermines their reason to exist.

    • Painful as I near retirement to watch “climate scientists” insist on rediscovering the wheel when it comes to geochemistry.

  3. ‘Coccolithophores are often referred to as “canaries in the coal mine.”’

    Yes, I can hear them sing:

    So long sad times
    Go long bad times
    We are rid of you at last

    The skies above are clear again
    So let’s sing a song of cheer again
    Happy days are here again

    • Time to stop picking on canaries and coal mines – sooo last millennium. How about:
      – a solar panel at night
      – a wind turbine on a still day
      – a raptor in a wind farm

      Anyhow, it seems that these plants favour neutral ph conditions, or warmer water, or more sun. I wonder which one it is?

  4. I have some questions:

    Since the 1960’s, how much have the Oceans warmed?

    Since the 1960’s, how much have the Oceans ph level changed?

    And, in both cases, has it been a consistent change or more of a cyclic one?

    Just wondering how those answers will fit in with the “canary” coccolithophores increase.

    • “Have they not seen the White Cliffs of Dover and thought about what might have caused the increase in coccolithophores in the Cretaceous?”

      Oh, hell no! One of the key tenets of warmista buffoonery is that every single one of the jackass alarmists have to be completely free of the burdens of prior knowledge.
      In particular, being 100% ignorant of Earth history seems necessary to secure a government grant to study anything related to so-called climate science.
      Actual scientific knowledge is verboten, as this would tend to introduce an element of realism which invariably proves fatal to alarmist notions.
      Facts are very inconvenient things when you are trying to sell end-of-the-world apocalyptic fantasies.

  5. They don’t have a clue what’s happening. They just “know” it’s bad, which is good news (how convenient) for the upcoming Climate Jamboree.

  6. What is the measured change in pH in N. Atlantic in the study period? What is its variability, and what measurement errors are they admitting? And what is the species mix now, and 45 years ago? The N. Atlantic’s a very big place. Is this 45% increase general, local, averaged? Is it a gradual increase or are there spurts and fallbacks?There’s an awful lot of questions to be asked before any conclusions. Is there a link?

  7. …which is becoming more difficult as the ocean becomes more acidic less alkaline and pH is reduced.

    If they can’t get that right I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that evolution is a new concept to these boffins.

  8. First, the press release has Dr. William Balch saying: We never expected to see the relative abundance of coccolithophores to increase 10 times in the North Atlantic over barely half a century. If anything, we expected that these sensitive calcifying algae would have decreased in the face of increasing ocean acidification (associated with increasing carbon dioxide entering the ocean from the burning of fossil-fuels).

    Then it quotes him as saying In the geological record, coccolithophores have been typically more abundant during Earth’s warm interglacial and high CO2 periods. The results presented here are consistent with this and may portend, like the “canary in the coal mine,” where we are headed climatologically.

    So which is it? If abundance of coccolithophores is typical of high CO2 periods, why did they expect coccolithophores to decrease due to “ocean acidification.” Pretzel logic to maintain consistency with alarmist rhetoric. Whatever it is, it’s worse than we thought! Prevalent models may be too conservative!

      • Well spotted.

        I assume this is just the money talk to emphasize

        * We’re in faith
        * We need more money
        * We found something that can be interpreted as ‘global warming’ and be used in the Paris summit
        * We actually are not so surprised, but we like present our study as so
        * Any change is climate change is global warming is anthropogenic gw is dagw is cagw.

      • Expected by those with understanding of ocean geochemistry, unexpected by climate scientists working with poor understanding and preconceived notions.

    • Katherine:
      I’m with Eric H. I had copied the same phrases to use in my comment, but you’ve stated it so well.

      What commentary I can add to your and Eric’s comments is:

      “…“This provides one example on how marine communities across an entire ocean basin are responding to increasing carbon dioxide levels. Such real-life examples of the impact of increasing CO2 on marine food webs are important to point out as the world comes together in Paris next week at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change,” Balch added…”

      A clear example of confirmation bias research where the results do not matter, the end results are always dire.
      So dire that now these happily abundant coccolithophores will provide an example for discussion at Paris in December.

      They should post a cautionary sign, ‘weasels at work’ wherever they work. So science or objectivity is safe around them!

    • That contradiction comes when belief is contradicted by evidence.

      Orwell understood the human nature of that collision with his coining term Doublethink.

      A simple google search returns the following definition for those unfamiliar with Orwell’s term.
      dou·ble·think
      noun
      the acceptance of or mental capacity to accept contrary opinions or beliefs at the same time, especially as a result of political indoctrination.

      The paper’s authors had bought into the political propaganda (that warming oceans, higher CO2 would damage cocolithophores), while their expert knowledge of paleo records contradicted the former, yet they accepted both could be true until forced to reconcile the doublethink.

      Climate change propaganda has polluted so much of biology and ecology that much of science’s public respect will be sorely damaged when the Climate Change scam collapses.

      • It could also be that by genuflecting before the alter of alarm, his study becomes politically acceptable. Play the game for the team and score for the oposition at the same time.

    • Charts from a couple studies,

      Jones, B.M. et al. 2013 – two tanks of algae at different CO2 levels. They are sensitive to CO2, but in the wrong way to support CAGW.

      Iglesias-Rodriguez et al. 2008 – core samples of Emiliana huxleyi

      Emiliana huxleyi are also useful in establishing paleo sea surface temperatures as far back as the Cretaceous. They reside in the sunny surface layer and produce alkenones, with unsaturation levels that vary with temperature. The unsaturation ratio doesn’t change as they die and get buried in the sea sediment.

      • I believe that there was NO Mauna Loa CO2 data, prior to the IGY of 1957/58.

        So why do you show ML “data” back to 1780 ??

        g

    • Why Katherine, do these chaps say ” they never expected ” this or that ?

      Why can’t they tell the truth, and say that ” they expected something else ” as dictated by their pre-conceived ideas ??

      An honest scientist would say; “let’s look and see what we find. ”

      g

  9. On the one hand:
    “If anything, we expected that these sensitive calcifying algae would have decreased in the face of increasing ocean acidification (associated with increasing carbon dioxide entering the ocean from the burning of fossil-fuels).”
    On the other hand:
    “In the geological record, coccolithophores have been typically more abundant during Earth’s warm interglacial and high CO2 periods.”
    They suspected something that historically has done well during warm high CO2 conditions would die off in warm high CO2 conditions? Why would they think that?

    • The cargo cult science practiced by climate change purveyors is very strongly influenced by the IPCC agenda and not so much by logic. This 45 year study shows once again that computer projections based on incorrect assumptions (in this case that decreasing alkalinity will inhibit the ability of ocean dwelling lifeforms to create shells) typically mean that such projections are GO; from the second half of GIGO.

    • They suspected something that historically has done well during warm high CO2 conditions would die off in warm high CO2 conditions? Why would they think that?

      Because they know that higher CO2 will not lead to warming?

  10. “What is worrisome,” he said, “is that our result points out how little we know about how complex ecosystems function.” according to one of the authors Anand Gnanadesikan. It is therefore amazing the level of knowledge of our environmentalists and climatologists and of course their models driving political decisions.

  11. This finding was diametrically opposed to what scientists had expected since coccolithophores make their plates out of calcium carbonate, which is becoming more difficult as the ocean becomes more acidic and pH is reduced.

    Talk about doublespeek. Let’s see… “coccolithophores’ abundance has increased by an order of magnitude since 1960s”, but it is becoming more difficult for them to make their plates? These guys should really go back to K-12 to learn how to think and organize their thoughts. Then they follow it with: “In the geological record, coccolithophores have been typically more abundant during Earth’s warm interglacial and high CO2 periods.”

  12. I presume the canary was supposed to die, not flourish?

    Are Coccolithophores good food source at the bottom of the food chain

    How is this not a good news story?

    • The canary alert system is well known, but very few are aware that it is able to detect both deterioration in the situation and improvement.
      Certainly, when the live canary keels over dead, it is clearly unsafe, but when dead canaries come back to life it is cause for optimism.
      This latter phenomenon occurs as frequently in Cagw papers as it does in Welsh mines.

      • The “Black Knight” is my favourite analogy. But how many limbs does the Co2 driven Black Knight have, for crying out loud?

      • The canary alert system analogy to phytoplankton would seem inappropriate to me.

        I would argue that because ocean plankton ecology has evolved under a billion years of climate change pressures far beyond the meager changes of our gentle holocene-anthropocene changes, phytoplankton are selected for resilience, I.e. they have robustness in available adaptations the face of environmental perturbations.

        A canary in a coal mine is of course not in an environment in which it has evolved for survival. Canaries were used as air quality monitors precisely because they were sensitive to deteriorating air quality before the human miners became physiologically aware of that decline. In otherwords, a canary (due to the fast metabolism and small body size) is not robust to sudden changes in air quality perturbations, thus the canary lying motionless on the cage floor was an immediate sign the miners had obey or die themselves.

        Thus the state of phytoplankton, able to adapt and thrive under large perturbations is not a good indicator of any real damage that might occur under higher levels of atmospheric CO2. (Doubt there is any damage that higher CO2 could cause until levels climb substanially higher than 1200ppm.)

    • The same way that CO2 fertilization of land plants is causing an explosive growth in agricultural yields all over the world, and yet CO2 is taken as a given to be a dire circumstance for the prospects of feeding a hungry world.
      in other words, only in the fantasyland minds of people who really are not very smart and have not much clue about how things actually work.

    • We can use all the plankton we can get. The Japanese will find some way to make food out of it.

      Probably tastes like chicken too.

      G

      • Unknown. The IPCC Carbon cycle estimates total marine biota biomass at only 3 Gt, yet shows annual fluxes in and out from the mixed layer at 50 and 37 Gt respectively.

        Lotta work from not much biomass. something like 15 Gt production/Gt standing stock or reservoir size. Contrast that with land vegetation which can manage only .2Gt production or flux/Gt standing stock.

        Let’s say there is a good chance marine biomass is underestimated. The IPCC shows no flux between marine biota and the atmosphere, yet everyone knows these blooms are right on the surface and may be absorbing atmospheric CO2 directly.

        Certainly they modulate ocean surface pCO2 as regards applying Henry’s law to ocean atmosphere exchange.

        Much to learn

    • gymnosperm: Reply to your 10AM
      Hugs might be interested

      The “ocean” part of the diagram (from AR5 WG1 Figures) needs a little discussion.

      My understanding (so far) is –
      The LH box refers to total carbonate species (1st approx: bicarbonate), passively transported in seawater. Down and Up are geographically well-separated, so the diagram as-is may mislead. CO2(aq) is around 1/30th of total.
      Settling solids comprise biomass (2) and limestone skeletons of phytoplankton (I assume the unlabelled 11). Biodegradation of biomass at depth regenerates CO2(aq), which redissolves the limestone. Total 13 down vs nett 11 up is a loose end.
      Two units of bicarbonate produce one each of limestone and CO2(aq). So, biomass settling reduces surface CO2(aq), and limestone settling increases it. On the diagram numbers, phytoplankton appear nett *producers* of 9 GtC/yr as CO2(aq) – ultimately compensated by the upwelled return (probably elsewhere). I’d expect large local variation, as 28 biomass + 11 limestone skeleton for growth consumes nett 17 CO2(aq).
      The near-surface exchanges can be understood as total CO2(aq) return (37) comprising 11 from limestone formation and 26 from biodegradation, total 28 biomass formation, and supply of this plus 11×2 = 22 total carbonates giving the 50 indicated. In this, CO2(aq) appears in both streams; as consumption/release are closely associated, including only the nett would be better. This wasn’t done, so my reading may be incomplete.
      This suggests 9 Gt/yr per Gt stock rather than your 15 – still high turnover.

  13. Gobsmacking statements of the obvious, or is it misdirection? coccolithophores go up by an order of magnitude and the ‘relative’ abundance of diatoms goes down. Well no kidding. This implies falsely that the absolute diatom abundance is going down, or at least the casual reader (journalist?) will infer that result.

  14. Just shows yet again how little is known about carbon sinks and feedback effects from more plant food in the air.

    The biological removal of so much carbon from the upper ocean to make calcium carbonate is a negative feedback, causing expected reduction in alkalinity not to occur.

    Also, coccolithophores tend to dwell where other planktonic groups don’t, so there should be little effect on diatoms, etc.

      • Some algae are technically plants.
        Those in the phyla chlorophyta and charophyta, specifically.
        Just sayin’.

      • Algae are very diverse group, and include many unrelated groups of eukaryotes.
        It is thus not a formal term, but more of a generalization.

      • We eat both; and animules too !

        g

        Algae is just like sea weed, only cocolithophores are much smaller.

  15. Increased carbon dioxide enhances plankton growth, opposite of what was expected

    So, the most important life form on the planet likes more CO2? Who could have guessed? (/snark)

    On another thread people were wondering where the “extra” CO2 might be going to. I mentioned perhaps it was cooling oceans — but looks like what was in the oceans may be using all the “extra” CO2 and using it for good things.

    ~Mark

    • Obviously, since these tiny critters evolved when the CO2 levels were tremendously higher than today, many millions and millions of years ago…they love this stuff. They want this stuff. Yummy.

    • Coccolithophores compete poorly with other phytoplankton which is why they thrive in nutrient-poor regions where other phytoplankton do not survive. Consequently a substantial increase in coccolithophores implies an increase in nutrient-poor habitats.

  16. coccolithophores make their plates out of calcium carbonate, which is becoming more difficult as the ocean becomes more acidic and pH is reduced…..

    No, it becomes easier….

      • These people are completely ignorant of the ability of living organisms to adapt to changes in environmental conditions. In particular, they seem to always blithely assume that any change is automatically bad, that all organism are as limited in their abilities as the people doing the assuming are in their thinking, and also seem not to understand the first thing about homeostatic mechanisms.

  17. Gee, a living creature who thrives when it’s food becomes more abundant. I wonder what the next paradigm shaking “discovery” will be? GK

  18. Apart from using the scare words “ocean acidification”, eleventy!!!!, one would think this should raise some eyebrows, ““In the geological record, coccolithophores have been typically more abundant during Earth’s warm interglacial and high CO2 periods.”
    Weren’t we told that CO2 is at it’s highest level, evah!
    Yet, here we are in a warm interglacial with elevated CO2, one of many I might add, as professed by the researchers.
    It has been shown unequivocally that CO2 lags warmth so, where is the connection to human generated CO2?
    The only thing being “generated” here are more grants to study the “problem”.

  19. I remember, back in the 1970s, a bunch of Soviet scientists were conducting environmental studies by releasing radioactive tracers and tracking where they went. They starting publishing what seemed for all the world like legitimate tracer studies, except they released megacuries of radiation. For the longest time, western scientists assumed a mistranslation and microcuries was what had been intended, which would be reasonable for an environmental study. But the papers kept coming, and the authors kept using megacuries. Finally it was revealed that the scientists were attempting to tip off the west to the worst nuclear accident in history, and do it under the watchful eyes of the soviet censors.

    So when I see a paper like this one, full of conflicting interpretations, I wonder how much of it is just to get it past the censors, get it published, and keep the funding. Perhaps the thing to do is just look at the data and see what value is there, and ignore the mandatory political interpretations.

    • God how accurate that could be. The message is clear – we believe in communism/cagw. Yet the actual results are rather not what they claim to be.

    • Exactly like the “vaccines are useful and (almost) safe and you need to keep vaccinating babies for sex-transmitted infections” on top of a study showing hep B vaccine causing MS.

      The true believers will trust the conclusion not the data.

    • “ignore the mandatory political interpretations.” Precisely.
      I remember a maths research paper written by a Soviet scientist in the 70s where the author had to put in the preface some drivel about “dialectical marxism” and “the struggle of the proletariat”. :-)

  20. So in addition to feeding plants and tress and helping to green the earth, now we are helping to feed the whales?

  21. The science is unsettling. Perhaps, he said tongue in cheek, the scientists don’t understand the science all that well else they’d never say it was settled.

      • Mick November 28, 2015 at 1:03 am:

        “The first thing that I would assume is that they were possibly miscounted in the first place.”

        Exactly my first thought! When I read the article I was so astounded by all the conflicting rhetoric of doom, when I came to the part about the author’s being perplexed by the unexpected population growth I thought to myself “Self, I’d be double checking my source population data…”

        I mean, what could go wrong with data taken in an obscure field 65 years ago? :)

  22. “When the percentage of coccolithophores in the community goes up, the relative abundance of other groups will go down. The authors found that at local scales, the relative abundance of another important algal class, diatoms, had decreased over the 45 years of sampling.”

    WR: what about the absolute amount of biomass in the 45 years of sampling? Increasing, decreasing?

  23. You should not play their game. The ocean is not becoming ‘more acidic’. If anything, it is becoming ‘less alkaline’.

    • Playing “their” game by “their” rules and winning provides much more satisfaction than endlessly whining about the idiosyncrasies of the game.

    • You got that right.
      More neutral is also an accurate statement.
      More acidic is not at all true…as the term is defined in every single dictionary ever published.

      • Excuse me…the actual term being misused is acidification, which is and has always been defined as the process of being converted to an acid.
        Since the ocean is not, and will not become, acidic, the term acidification is completely inappropriate.

      • the actual term being misused is acidification, which is and has always been defined as the process of being converted to an acid.

        Not true, in chemistry it’s the process of adding an acid.

  24. “We never expected to see the relative abundance of coccolithophores to increase 10 times in the North Atlantic over barely half a century.

    Instead, we see how these carbon-limited organisms appear to be using the extra carbon from CO2 to increase their relative abundance by an order of magnitude.

    WOWEE, and just how many gigatons of carbon (CO2) have those little fellows removed from the ocean waters each and every year for the last 45 years?

    Me thinks that Ferdinand Engelbeen will have to re-guesstimte his estimation of the carbon (CO2) sink rate of the ocean waters …. and re-calculate all of his “fuzzy” math calculations for the outgassing of CO2 from the ocean waters to derive “new” quantity figures that are still supportive of his guesstimated quantity figures for human emitted CO2.

    I wonder how many more there are of those “mini-black holes” for sequestering CO2 that no one knows about?

    • Me thinks that Ferdinand Engelbeen will have to re-guesstimte his estimation of the carbon (CO2) sink rate of the ocean waters

      It would not hurt if you presented your estimation, for starters, pretty please.

      This new data could of course mean that the coccolithophore sink is significantly larger than previously estimated, thus other sinks are smaller, or sources are larger or both. How this affects on the central statistics, like excess CO2 half-life, or airborne fraction? I assume this is a negative feedback, but how large?

      • Hugs,

        I prefer not to offer you an estimation of the carbon (CO2) sink rate of the ocean waters until after I discuss the matter with the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

        Yours truly,

        Eritas Fubar

    • Ferdinand’s calculations are based on what has actually happened in the past, so they already allow for the actions of plankton.

    • In other words, they are all eating carbon. They should be celebrated by the global warmists, ‘our saviors’!

  25. since coccolithophores make their plates out of calcium carbonate….

    Please tell me this was from some press release….or some dolt just made it up…and it did not come from a real marine scientist.
    Nothing could be more wrong……..

  26. Interesting,
    My quick thoughts on Coccolithophores increases and how they can effect SST’s.
    When you cover more areas of Northern oceans in Summer with Coccolithophores they block warming light from reaching deeper into oceans.
    A feedback effect? , with more C02 in atmosphere, ocean cooling will occur from less sunlight being absorbed and more sunlight reflected back into space from the milky white color of Coccolithophores.
    Just a theory,
    Any thoughts?

  27. …Increased carbon dioxide enhances plankton growth, opposite of what was expected…

    Surely only with the raw data?

    Once that has been adjusted, I’m sure the right answer will be forthcoming. Or the grant renewal won’t be…

  28. Here is the takeaway —

    Originally they thought that due to higher levels of CO2 in the ocean coccolithophores would decrease in number — AND THAT WAS BAD!!!!

    Now they find the due to higher levels of CO2 in the ocean coccolithophores have dramatically increased in number — AND THAT IS BAD!!!!

    It just boggles the mind.

    Eugene WR Gallun

  29. The fact that anyone could seriously consider that increased CO2 would not enhance biology that consumes CO2 illustrates just how out of touch with reality CAGW believers are, It was all part of a hypothesized smoke screen to make ocean acidification seem relevant when they started to see data that undermined their position (i.e. the pause).

  30. A ten fold change in any population merits concern. Is it natural? If anthropogenic, what is the mechanism? What are the ramifications? I would definitely agree it needs more study, hopefully by scientists who go in without pre-conceived expectations.

    • In small species, tenfold or even thousandfold increases or decreases are not unusual. But a sustained, long term increase in a group of species certainly merits interest. That’s why I ask about the number of species of coccoliths involved, and their geographic spread. And yes, though I’m always impressed by F. Engelbeen’s posts, I’m still deeply suspicious of his mass balance numbers in relation to the biosphere so, yes, I like some knowledgeable person to trawl the estimates critically.

  31. So it has only taken these “experts” 45 years to discover what their mentors told them?
    “I do not know”, is the heart of science.
    The Team IPCC ™ approach of certainty first, data later has only one result possible.
    Profound ignorance.
    Who would have suspected that more plant food would encourage more plant growth?
    Such an illogical concept. In Climatology.

    For persons this irksome, banishment is the only logical solution.
    Tar, feathers and a new home on Coates Island Canada, where we can monitor their carbon phobic lifestyle by camera drone.
    What was that beautiful line from the Late John Daley, where he calls the Team exactly what they have since turned out to be?

    • I was also wondering how it took 45 years to notice a 10-fold increase from a supposedly ‘Continuous Plankton Recorder survey.

      Where were these people 5/10/20 years ago when their data would have been showing increases counter to their expectation of decreases?

      Nothing to do with COP21, of course, just impartial ‘scientists’ doing their bit to advance knowledge (/sarc).

      • They were probably trying to hide the incline until someone realized they could spin it to be a development of grave concern.

  32. As to be expected, not a word about this in The Guardian, but they are getting sooooo excited about the Paris bean feast and plugging protest marches that will feature big scientific names like Charlotte Church and Vivienne Weatwood.

    They are however apoplectic over the UK Government’s announcement today that they are going to force fracking to start by taking over tha planning process. Also not too chuffed at the withdrawal of taxpayer support for Carbon Capture projects earlier this week.

    I visit the site on days like this just to chuckle at the level of self righteous angst. Of course, access to the site is still free and the scale of posting reflects this rather than being a true reflection of National concern.

  33. Don’t coccolithophores produce dimethyl sulfide (DMS)? DMS evaporates from the oceans into the atmosphere and gets oxidized to sulfuric acid which condenses on particles that then act as cloud condensation nuclei. That has no effect of the amount of clouds, but more condensation nuclei results in the cloud water being spread out over more droplets with more surface area. And that means more reflection of sunlight. Negative feedback.

    This is not a new idea; Bob Charlson put it forward a quarter century ago. But at the time, no one new if the coccolithophore population would go up or down, so no one knew the sign of the feedback. It seems that now we know.

  34. Perhaps they increase when reduced global cloudiness allows more sunlight into the oceans so that co2 out gassing occurs and they can take it up more readily?

  35. Paper: RESPONSIVENESS OF ATMOSPHERIC CO2 TO ANTHROPOGENIC EMISSIONS

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2642639

    “When applied to atmospheric CO2, this procedure shows that the correlation between the annual rate at which anthropogenic emissions are introduced into the atmosphere and the annual rate at which CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, though significant, does not survive into the detrended series and is therefore likely to be spurious or an artifact of the common direction of their long term drift in time to which no anthropogenic cause can be ascribed.”

    • Russ, I’d like to download the linked paper, but cannot because I decline to create an “account” on a website unknown to me. Is there another way to get the paper?

      • Bill,

        I just double clicked on the “Download This Paper” button, and it took me here:

        papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm/SSRN_ID2648461_code2220942.pdf?abstractid=2642639&mirid=1

        Then a ‘Save or Open’ popup window was displayed.

        I wasn’t asked to create an account.

        Good luck,
        Russ

  36. Coccolithophores (plants) are thriving with a slightly enriched C02 concentration. I need ‘science’ to tell me this? Increasing one of the three primary inputs to photosynthesis results in an increased output. Who knew?

    The other element of the study I have a problem with is the 45 years of data part. We have no reliable way of determining global plankton density even now (a rough guess from satellite photos perhaps?) so how, exactly, were they determining this measure 45 years ago?

  37. “Something strange is happening here, and it’s happening much more quickly than we thought it should,” said Anand Gnanadesikan, associate professor in the Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins and one of the study’s five authors.

    “We have nothing real here upon which to base our phony baloney opinions but, sh*t, everyone else gets away with it – why shouldn’t we?”

    Will somebody get Willis out of bed and throw this piece of junk ‘study’ onto his breakfast table? I’m guessing twenty minutes of his time.

  38. Do you want coccolithophores or not?

    Here is NASA (for kiddies) on the coccolithophore:

    …Many of the smaller fish and zooplankton that eat normal phytoplankton also feast on the coccolithophores.

    … each time a molecule of coccolith is made, one less carbon atom is allowed to roam freely in the world to form greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming. Three hundred twenty pounds of carbon go into every ton of coccoliths produced. All of this material sinks harmlessly to the bottom of the ocean to form sediment.

    …The chemical reaction that makes the coccolith also generates a carbon dioxide molecule, a potent greenhouse gas, from the oxygen and carbon already in the ocean. While much of the gas is sucked back in by the coccoliths (all plants take in carbon dioxide for food) some of it escapes into the atmosphere and immediately becomes part of the greenhouse gas problem. Scientists are concerned in the short term that greenhouse gases will cause the upper layers of the ocean to become more temperate and stagnant. This would increase the number of coccoliths in the world, which would produce more greenhouse gas.

    …The coccolithophores also affect the global climate in the short term by increasing the oceans’ albedo. …Coccolithophore blooms reflect nearly all the visible light that hits them. Since most of this light is being reflected, less of it is being absorbed by the ocean and stored as heat..

    [http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Coccolithophores/coccolith_3.php]

  39. Not at all sure about these coccolithophores.
    NASA [http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Coccolithophores/coccolith_3.php]

    …Many of the smaller fish and zooplankton that eat normal phytoplankton also feast on the coccolithophores.
    …. each time a molecule of coccolith is made, one less carbon atom is allowed to roam freely in the world to form greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming. Three hundred twenty pounds of carbon go into every ton of coccoliths produced. All of this material sinks harmlessly to the bottom of the ocean to form sediment.

    ….The coccolithophores’ short-term effect …The chemical reaction that makes the coccolith also generates a carbon dioxide molecule, a potent greenhouse gas, from the oxygen and carbon already in the ocean. While much of the gas is sucked back in by the coccoliths (all plants take in carbon dioxide for food) some of it escapes into the atmosphere and immediately becomes part of the greenhouse gas problem….Scientists are concerned in the short term that greenhouse gases will cause the upper layers of the ocean to become more temperate and stagnant. This would increase the number of coccoliths in the world, which would produce more greenhouse gas.

    The coccolithophores also affect the global climate in the short term by increasing the oceans’ albedo.

  40. Reducing the pH has not yet made the oceans acidic, it has made them less alkaline. Let’s be precise here for a change. pH varies each day and each year more than any long term trend. These results are yet another vote of thanks from the Plant World for the extra CO2 from wherever it comes.

  41. Quoting the article-
    “What is worrisome,” he said, “is that our result points out how little we know about how complex ecosystems function.”

    Troublesome thought to these ‘science cowboys’, having to make several lifetimes of observation before having any idea of the interactions involved, their scales and cyclic tendencies.
    We must watch and learn from nature before assuming that we are its predominant affectation.
    Our stay on this rock is too brief to recognize and chronicle all of the cycles which ultimately form the machine of our cosmos voyaging star system, and recognize chaos from order

  42. These people are so predictable. When the bad news they expected is proven wrong by actual observations, they are compelled to find a way to turn the good news into bad news. It’s almost like they want a disaster to happen.

  43. [Quote] “as carbon input into ocean waters has increased…….Coccolithophores …..Some of the key coccolithophore species can outcompete other classes of phytoplankton……… in warmerable to use the higher concentration of carbon derived from CO2
    Does that not contradict the oceans CO2 out-gassing theory and why CO2 rises (or contributes to it) when ocean temperature rises?I am confused on that now???

  44. They expected the Coccolithophores to decrease due to increased co2 and temperature AND they claim increased Coccolithophores are a sign of increasing co2 and temperature. Huh?

  45. I learn’t that little bit of information when I was about 13, plants breathe in carbon dioxide, and breathe out Oxygen, and animals including us breathe in Oxygen, and breathe out Carbon dioxide. I also as a child had neighbours with a greenhouse, and he explained he could not go in the greenhouse and pick tomatoes as and when he liked, because he was feeding them carbon dioxide, and if we did we would die, but it was really good for the plants. DUHHHHH

  46. Believe it or not, it’s a standard lab procedure among these “scientists” to add hydrochloric acid to decrease pH of seawater, in order to study effects of “ocean acidification”.

    The only minute detail they dismiss out of hand is that CO2 and water can be turned into sugar by photosynthesis, while chlorine can’t be used that way, what is more, it’s toxic.

    • … answered one of my questions. Thanks.

      (leads me back to my overriding question… what is ignorance/malfeasance ratio associated with this those that are making their living off of this?)

    • Strictly speaking, the species present in hydrochloric acid is chloride, not chlorine.
      In solution, HCl yields hydronium ions and chloride ions.

    • The only minute detail they dismiss out of hand is that CO2 and water can be turned into sugar by photosynthesis, while chlorine can’t be used that way, what is more, it’s toxic.

      And yet that toxic chemical is present in the ocean at a level of ~19,000 ppm!

  47. The first thing that struck me in the paper was this: “The … filtering system was designed to trap larger microplankton [but some] coccolithophores are trapped. … It is not possible to accurately quantify organisms that are smaller than the mesh-size … our sampling underestimates natural abundances … the fraction of samples containing [any] coccolithophores …”
    In the supplementary material, ” Coccolithophore presence was not regularly recorded until 1965. Coccolithophores [and some others] were not counted until 1993.
    So nobody noticed what was happening to coccolithophores before because the system was never designed to count them, and we don’t actually have counts of coccolithophores, only a “proxy”. The “20%” was not *”20% of individuals are coccolithophores” but “20% of samples contain some of them.” As for diatoms, figure 3 of the paper shows a graph of counts. That exhibits a plunge in absolute numbers from 1960 to 1970 followed by no apparent trend from 1970 to 2010. (No relationship between diatom numbers and CO2 or coccolithophore numbers is apparent or suggested.)

    In short, this is actually a pretty good paper doing the best they can with the best available data, which turn out to be just barely good enough to be surprising, and they don’t just say “more research is needed”, they identity specific areas of ignorance that have to be addressed if you want to understand what’s happening with coccolithophores.

  48. “The CPR survey was launched by British marine biologist Sir Alister Hardy in the early 1930s. Today it is carried on by the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Sciences and is conducted by commercial ships trailing mechanical plankton-gathering gear through the water as they sail their regular routes.”

    ugh, ships emitting CO2 possibly interacting with the water behind them. where said ship is dragging “mechanical plankton-gathering gear ” .
    Did anyone say greenhouse with CO2 priming and it’s effect?
    Nah, just me, tow ship can’t be feeding the plankton. Silly
    michael

  49. [Comment deleted. “Jankowski” has been stolen by the identity thief pest. All Jankowski comments saved and deleted from public view. You wasted your time, sockpuppet. -mod]

  50. The ignorant reporters who regurgitate the blizzard of climate press releases would pray to pass a developmental/remedial chemistry/physics class. How could they possibly understand the science?

  51. CAGW alarmists obfuscate that CO2 levels are still at very dangerously low levels.

    At the end of the last glaciation period just 12,000 years ago, CO2 levels were at 170ppm, which is just 20ppm from photosynthesis shutting down and all life on earth going extinct….

    We should be celebrating that manmade CO2 emissions have managed to beneficially increase CO2 to safer levels.

    I also find it amusing that CAGW alarmists are still beating the “ocean acidification” dead horse, when all scientists know that from the Cambrian to the Devonian (600~400 million years ago), CO2 levels were around 4,000ppm, and oceans thrived with corals, plankton, shellfish and fish, even with 10 TIMES more CO2 dissolved in the oceans as carbonic acid and oceans were STILL alkaline at a pH of around 7.6…

    Historians will eventually laugh at this generation for believing in such an absurd hypothesis when all empirical evidence so overwhelmingly showed it to be an impossible premise…

  52. Wikipedia tells me: Role in the food web : Coccolithophores are one of the more abundant primary producers in the ocean. As such, they are a large contributor to the primary productivity of the tropical and subtropical oceans, however, exactly how much has yet to have been recorded.

    ….and regards to CO2 absorption: over the long term coccolithophores contribute to an overall decrease in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. During calcification two carbon atoms are taken up and one of them becomes trapped as calcium carbonate. This calcium carbonate sinks to the bottom of the ocean in the form of coccoliths and becomes part of sediment; thus, coccolithophores provide a sink for emitted carbon, mediating the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.

    More Coccolithophores equals more food production and more green house gas emissions – just what the greens wanted to hear, they should be celebrating, this is a good news story on the eve of their conference on saving the world from CO2 poisoning (or whatever they want to call it).

  53. If the concentration of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere is increased then land plants thrive.

    If the carbon dioxide content of sea water in the photic zone is increased then why is anyone surprised that marine plankton also thrive? Perhaps because the increased concentration of carbonic acid damages the coccoliths within the cells and so stops the Coccolithophores from growing? Surely not, all phytoplankton need for survival is access to carbon dioxide, if it is available as a dissolved gas in the sea water then fine, that is the easiest resource to exploit.

    But if the marine waters are too alkaline and the main resource is ionic carbonate then nature has devised a neat trick which costs energy, but the payoff is worth it. The Coccolithophores convert dissolved calcium bicarbonate into insoluble calcium (mono) carbonate precipitate and so release the 2nd (bi) carbonate ionic fraction for their life processes as accessible carbon dioxide gas. It took a lot of evolution to develop this capability, so in the presence of increased dissolved carbon dioxide fraction why waste the energy doing this? The coccolithophores naturally thrive on the enhanced carbon dioxide content of the fertilised marine waters.

    • Philip Mulholland November 28, 2015 at 5:06 am
      But if the marine waters are too alkaline and the main resource is ionic carbonate then nature has devised a neat trick which costs energy, but the payoff is worth it. The Coccolithophores convert dissolved calcium bicarbonate into insoluble calcium (mono) carbonate precipitate and so release the 2nd (bi) carbonate ionic fraction for their life processes as accessible carbon dioxide gas.

      Your chemistry is flawed, calcium bicarbonate is the outdated name for calcium hydrogen carbonate, consequently there is no second carbonate ion.
      HCO3- + H2O + H3O+ -> CO3– + 2H3O+

      • Phil,
        You say:-

        Your chemistry is flawed, calcium bicarbonate is the outdated name for calcium hydrogen carbonate, consequently there is no second carbonate ion.

        Thank you for the nomenclature correction and also for so clearly demonstrating why knowledge of the old nomenclature has merit.

        Calcium is an alkaline earth metal, its atoms have two valence electrons and the calcium cation has an electronic charge of plus 2. Its soluble ionic salt Calcium Chloride has the chemical formula CaCl2 one calcium cation combines with two chloride anions to form an electrically neutral highly deliquescent salt that occurs in nature (in combination with Magnesium) as the rare hydrous mineral tachyhydrite. Sodium is an alkali metal, its atoms have one valence electron and the sodium cation has an electronic charge of plus 1. Its soluble salt Sodium Carbonate has the formula Na2CO3 two sodium cations combine with one carbonate anion to form the hydrous mineral natron.
        Calcium carbonate is an insoluble salt with the chemical formula CaCO3 it occurs in nature as the polymorphous twin minerals calcite & aragonite. Calcium hydrogen carbonate, (aka Calcium bicarbonate) has the chemical formula Ca(HCO3)2, this compound does not exist as a solid, it only occurs in solution, however the bivalent calcium cation clearly requires two mono-valent HCO3 anions to achieve electrical neutrality, not one.
        What’s in a name? Those who do not know their history of science are condemned to repeat it.

      • Your chemistry is flawed, calcium bicarbonate is the outdated name for calcium hydrogen carbonate, consequently there is no second carbonate ion.
        HCO3- + H2O + H3O+ -> CO3– + 2H3O+

        Sorry about this, the two ‘minus signs’ which I put after the CO3 to indicate the double negative charge merged into a longer dash, I’ll see if the sup tag works:

        HCO3- + H2O + H3O+ -> CO32- + 2H3O+

        Then:

        Ca2+ + CO32- -> CaCO3(s)

        The calcium carbonate in the case of coccoliths is calcite for which the solubility product is:
        3.36×10-9
        So the coccolith will form when the product of the two ions exceed that value, they will dissolve when the coccolith descends below the lysocline, by the time the calcite compensation depth is reached it’s all dissolved.

      • Phil,
        Your biology is flawed. Coccolithophores are phytoplankton, they live in the photic zone and they consume CO2 for a living. More “carbonic acid” means more phytoplankton food.
        Including calcite generating phytoplankton in the ocean acidification scare was a mistake.

      • Philip Mulholland November 30, 2015 at 7:14 am
        Phil,
        Your biology is flawed. Coccolithophores are phytoplankton, they live in the photic zone and they consume CO2 for a living. More “carbonic acid” means more phytoplankton food.

        Nothing wrong with my biology:
        “Phil. November 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm
        Coccolithophores compete poorly with other phytoplankton which is why they thrive in nutrient-poor regions where other phytoplankton do not survive. Consequently a substantial increase in coccolithophores implies an increase in nutrient-poor habitats.”

      • I only did one full year of University Chemistry in my bachelor’s degree, so a chemist I am not.

        But as near as I can remember, the pH of a solution was (back then) something like the log (base 10) of the concentration of hydrogen ions in the solution.

        And I don’t remember if that was in SI units or CGS units. I’m guessing the latter; so maybe 10^7 Hydrogen ions per cc, in a sample of pure H2O at STP, from which a pH of 7.0 would arise. But back then, most people were still going gaga over Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron, so I could be remembering wrongly.

        Of course the thing about water; H2O is that in a solution of H2O in water, if you get 10^7 Hydrogen ions per cc. you also get 10^7 Hydroxyl ions per cc; but those don’t count in the pH.

        So now here’s my dilemma as to ocean acidification, which Phil says is defined as adding an acid to the solution.

        What the heck is an acid ? Well evidently it is a something that has more Hydrogen ions than Hydroxyl ions.

        So can somebody who IS a chemist please explain to me how; if I add carbon dioxide (gas) to a pre-existing solution of this and that.

        Where the heck do the EXTRA Hydrogen ions come from; or alternatively, where the heck do the extra Hydroxyl ions go ??

        I’m confused. Seems to me that CO2 brings no change to the pH of the ocean as a whole. If some parts go down, other parts must go up.

        But as I said; I’m still intrigued by those new neutron things, so I don’t really understand pH.

        g

      • 1saveenergy November 30, 2015 at 6:37 pm
        @ Phil. November 30, 2015 at 3:13 pm

        George, here it is:

        H2O + CO2 -> H2CO3 -> H+ + HCO3-

        http://employees.oneonta.edu/viningwj/modules/CI_carbon_dioxide_as_lewis_acid_17_13.html

        true for pure water but sea water is more complex, so having got to HCO3 it doesn’t just stop there, you then get more reactions

        George asked how CO2 could function as an acid without having a Hydrogen, “Where the heck do the EXTRA Hydrogen ions come from”.
        That’s how CO2 acts as a Lewis acid regardless of whether it’s pure water or sea water, other reactions are irrelevant.

      • David Bennett Laing March 25, 2015 at 3:19 pm

        David,
        On a previous thread, now closed to new comments, you said:-

        No. The complete, balanced process, comprising photosynthesis and test formation is: Ca2+ + HCO3- → CaCO3 + CH2O + O2.

        Your equation is wrong, it does not balance in the number of atoms nor in the electrical charge of the ions.
        On the left your equation has 6 atoms viz:- Calcium (1) Hydrogen (1) Carbon (1) Oxygen (3)
        On the right your equation has 11 atoms viz:- Calcium (1) Hydrogen (2) Carbon (2) Oxygen (6)
        In order for the equation to balance there must be two hydrogen carbonate polyatomic anions and not one.
        The correct form of the equation which balances both in atoms and charge is :-
        Ca2+ + 2(HCO3-) → CaCO3 + CH2O + O2
        One Calcium cation plus two hydrogen carbonate polyatomic anions produces one crystalline calcite molecule; one formaldehyde molecule and one oxygen molecule.

  54. On the one hand Balch says;
    “In the geological record, coccolithophores have been typically more abundant during Earth’s warm interglacial and high CO2 periods.

    Yet earlier he said;
    “If anything, we expected that these sensitive calcifying algae would have decreased in the face of increasing ocean acidification (associated with increasing carbon dioxide entering the ocean from the burning of fossil-fuels).”

    Is it any wonder then, that he says;
    “Our result points out how little we know about how complex ecosystems function.”

    I suggest he repeat this last sentence three times a day until he is able to learn from history.

  55. shouldn’t we be happy to see the CO2 sinks perform 10 times better then we thought?

    yes that’s worrysome as that may be an indication that CAGW is again being debunked by observations…

  56. Using the term ‘acidification’ of the oceans is very misleading as the pH of seawater is buffered and stays relatively constant on the alkaline side of neutral 7 at 8.4.

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