Mixed phytoplankton

A New Perspective on North Atlantic’s Marine Productivity

Reevaluating Marine Productivity Trends

A recent article on Phys.org titled “North Atlantic’s marine productivity may not be declining, according to new study of older ice cores” provides an intriguing counter-narrative to the often alarmist discourse on marine ecosystems and climate change. This University of Washington-led study challenges the prevailing belief of a significant decline in North Atlantic marine productivity due to climate change.

The Ice Core Evidence

Researchers analyzed ice cores from Greenland, tracing back 800 years, to assess marine productivity levels. Contrary to previous findings, which claimed a 10% decline in North Atlantic phytoplankton since the mid-1800s, this new study reveals that phytoplankton populations may actually be more stable than previously thought.

 A prominent 2019 study used ice cores in Antarctica to suggest that marine productivity in the North Atlantic had declined by 10% during the industrial era, with worrying implications that the trend might continue.

The team discovered that the decline in methanesulfonic acid (MSA) concentrations, previously interpreted as a sign of decreasing productivity, was offset by an increase in phytoplankton-derived sulfate. This implies that phytoplankton, essential for the marine ecosystem and global oxygen production, have maintained consistent sulfur emissions over the industrial era.

A Complex Atmospheric Process

The researchers highlight a more complex atmospheric process affecting marine productivity. Industrial emissions have altered the atmosphere’s chemistry, impacting the fate of gases emitted by phytoplankton. By measuring various sulfur-containing molecules in the ice core, they found that human-generated pollutants have influenced these measurements, providing a different perspective on marine productivity trends.

“Greenland ice cores show a decline in MSA concentrations over the industrial era, which was concluded to be a sign of declining primary productivity in the North Atlantic,” said lead author Ursula Jongebloed, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences. “But our study of sulfate in a Greenland ice core shows that MSA alone can’t tell us the whole story when it comes to primary productivity.”

“When looking at the ice cores, we found that sulfate derived from phytoplankton increased during the industrial era,” Jongebloed said. “In other words, the decline in MSA is ‘offset’ by the simultaneous increase in phytoplankton-derived sulfate, indicating that phytoplankton-derived sulfur emissions have remained stable overall.”

Implications for Climate Science

This study underscores the importance of considering multiple factors and indicators when assessing environmental trends. It challenges the narrative of rapid ecological decline due to climate change, emphasizing the need for nuanced, multi-faceted research in understanding these complex systems.


The University of Washington’s research offers a balanced view of marine productivity trends in the North Atlantic. It reminds us that environmental changes are often more intricate than they appear, necessitating a comprehensive approach to scientific inquiry and policy-making​​.

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November 17, 2023 11:35 am

You mean that the science is not settled? Who’d have thunk it?

Reply to  Disputin
November 17, 2023 1:12 pm

And not even worse than they thought.

michael hart
Reply to  Scissor
November 17, 2023 4:08 pm

Yes. An essentially observational study. Like a Victorian scientist collecting and counting local butterflies.

It may well provide much valued data for later scientists, but little current understanding.
Maybe they wanted to find the latest greatest threat from global boiling and human fossil fuel use. Maybe they didn’t.

Just the facts, ma’am, isn’t always exciting. It is the fate of many honest science students.

Rud Istvan
November 17, 2023 11:54 am

Fine seine net trawls in the North Atlantic have shown a significant INCREASE in phytoplankton over the past 20 years. ‘Greening’. That is consistent with there not having been any industrial era decease. More alarmism debunked.

November 17, 2023 12:28 pm
Mark Luhman
Reply to  MyUsername
November 17, 2023 3:50 pm

Only if you want to put up with the urine and feces that the homeless leave behind on public transportation. Or the smelly people who ride them. Also adding twice the time in your commute. Lastly public transportation yields about 18 MPG for passenger mile, that going backwards.

Reply to  MyUsername
November 17, 2023 11:17 pm

This additional ‘energy’ that will be required comes from where?

Don’t say wind, solar, batteries or other so-called renewables, it’s neither realistic nor reliable.

By the way, I already walk to work, a 5-mile round trip, so I’m all for walking for those who can, for the majority of people, it’s just not feasible.

November 17, 2023 12:32 pm

Sounds like good news.

Peta of Newark
November 17, 2023 2:25 pm

“””Peak Cognitive Dissonance for The Climate
“””Giant blobs of seaweed are hitting Florida. That’s when the real problem begins
“””He said this year’s sargassum blooms formed a 5,500-mile-long, 10 million metric ton belt that snaked from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico.

“””On shore, as well as blocking beaches and repelling swimmers, the sargassum stinks as it decomposes.
Removal is time-consuming, expensive and can damage the beaches. Incoming rafts smother sea grasses and coral reefs, while fishermen struggle to get in the water.

They really have lost all contact with this planet, how it works and ‘Life on Earth

Ma Nature is delivering them 10 million tonne truckloads of Manna From Heaven yet EVERYTHING they see is a stinking mess because it ‘puts off tourist and swimmers’
I mean just wot, holy cow!

“”Crean says that the company Key West contracts with donates sargassum to farmers to use as fertilizer.
(Some glimmer of hope)

With illiterate headless chicken chronic depressives in universities, schools, parliaments and senates, we all really are in some Very Big Trouble here.

They are going to do something sooooo dumb, enact some insane law or punitive tax as to end this Earth

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 17, 2023 3:03 pm

PETA, a glimmer of hope. I live directly on the ocean in Fort Lauderdale. We have a sargassum ‘problem’ every late summer/fall.
Two bits of good news.

  1. The fishing off the sargassum rafts is excellent, as they harbor many prey. Most of our best mani-mani are caught off raft edges.
  2. We have big diesel tractor pulled custom beach rakes that scoop it up. Makes the beach tourists happy. Then we dig a hole in the beach at high tide with the tractor and bury the rake load in the sand. As it decomposes, the tides take the nutrients back out to fertilize our offshore coral reefs and all the marine life they shelter. Everybody wins.
B Zipperer
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 17, 2023 5:54 pm

Interesting observation!
As to #2: wouldn’t it work better to bury it at low tide?

Reply to  B Zipperer
November 18, 2023 11:20 pm

As to #2: wouldn’t it work better to bury it at low tide?”

More fun and less smelly the other way?

Mark Luhman
November 17, 2023 3:46 pm

“It reminds us that environmental changes are often more intricate than they appear, necessitating a comprehensive approach to scientific inquiry and policy-making​​.” What? How could they not leave the 10% decline narrative alone. After all blame humans first crowd will not be pleased. So much for their research grants.

michael hart
Reply to  Mark Luhman
November 17, 2023 4:10 pm

They may pay a price for being too honest.

Reply to  Mark Luhman
November 18, 2023 4:15 am

Be careful what you wish for. The Precautionary Principle says that you cannot move forward with any project if anyone can tell a scary story about it, until the proponent proves that the scary story if false.

This is what has killed nuclear power, with scary stories about deadly and evil radiation, and the lack of a “safe” way of ” disposing” of nuclear waste.

The Progressives have a bottomless pit filled with scary stories about everything human beings do, and they will pull them out forever, if you insist that more research needs to be done.

Reply to  rxc6422
November 18, 2023 5:51 am

Looks like the Navy has a problem with disposing of Capt. Kirk’s predecessor: https://breakingdefense.com/2023/11/uncharted-waters-navy-navigating-first-ever-dismantling-of-nuclear-powered-carrier/

Reply to  Yooper
November 18, 2023 8:11 am

Because the US government and especially the leftist Pentagon leaders are truly clueless.

Take the Enterprise, cut it down to just the 8 reactors. Make a new SMALL boat of those reactors. Configure the new boat to use ALL of the reactors for electrical generation. (my understanding is the Enterprise never used more than 2 of the reactors at any none time. Some of them may NEVER have been used for actual operations) Sell the new powerplant to the highest bidder. Float it to a point of connection to an electrical grid with sufficient cooling water capacity, dock it and use it.

The 8 reactors in the Enterprise are all SMR, but with more highly enriched uranium than civilian reactors and much more “throttleable” than normal power generation reactors.

The whole article just talks of the governments short sighted view of GETTING RID OF the reactors, not using them efficiently.

Look at all the reactors the USN has disposed of from and subs and cruisers. Those, depending on condition, could have been used to produce HEAT for any number of coal power plants forced to close due to Obama/Democrat CAGW insanity, and were small enough to transport to those locations.

What a waste.

November 17, 2023 4:27 pm

Current climate research has at least two major problems.
1. Frequent lack of proper estimation of Uncertainty.
2. Frequent failure to include, measure and account for all significant confounding factors.(This article on phytoplankton is yet another example).
Climate research will continue to be poor quality until these fundamental deficiencies are acknowledged and corrected.
This has been known for many decades.
Geoff S

November 17, 2023 9:03 pm

Evolution long ago gave algae and plankton the ability to control climate by regulating ocean and atmospheric chemistry. MSA/sulfate.
Whaling messed up the plankton balance regulating climate. It wasnt co2 after all .

michael hart
Reply to  ferdberple
November 18, 2023 8:03 am

Yes. A few years ago a group did some semi-open ocean genomics research on one of the main photosynthesising Coccolithophores under varying CO2 concentrations.

They found nothing particularly remarkable except that they upregulated the genes for carbonic anhydrase.

As I boringly point out on many occasions, the normal physico-chemical rate for interconversion of CO2 and carbonate is a bout 1million to 10million times slower than the maximum theoretical diffusion-related limit.
All life uses this enzyme to speed the process up by this amount.

That major photo-synthesising carbon dioxide-consuming life forms governing oceanic carbon sinks can’t up their their genomic game is probably not a sensible assumption.

They’ve seen it before. It is hardwired in their DNA.

November 17, 2023 9:20 pm

The shift in ocean chemical released by life is geoengineering of climate on a planetary scale by plankton.
Over time, evolution favors the development of life that can regulate climate to increase survival odds. Those organisms are still present. They have been here for 3 billion years. So called higher life forms have only been around for 1/2 billion. They needed simpler life to evolve the ability to regulate climate

November 17, 2023 11:51 pm
November 18, 2023 1:54 am

Americans…. get out your snowshoes !!

gfs_asnow_namer_fh0-384-23.gif (1024×638) (wp.com)

Reply to  bnice2000
November 18, 2023 8:37 am

Here on Cedar Mountain in SW Utah, we had our first snow squall of the current storm pass through this morning.

We had a mostly rain storm, .65 inches on my home weather station, 3 day ago. Some spots of snow still on north facing slopes and shaded areas.

Winter is on its way, although this storm is warmer, even at 8600 ft., so mostly rain is expected until tomorrow when it is expected to cool down some.

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