The surprising reason why Arctic warming could be worse than previously thought

Chris Mooney reports: For the most part, we humans can live our lives entirely untroubled by the doings of phytoplankton.

These tiny, largely single-celled marine organisms are, basically, little photosynthesis machines — they contain chlorophyll and process sunlight to create energy. It might sound relatively dull — but according to new research, this simple lifestyle could have major climate change ramifications.

The new study, just out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that as the Arctic Ocean warms and loses its sea ice cover, populations of phytoplankton will boom. This will, in turn, further amplify warming in a region that’s already heating up twice as fast as the rest of the planet. [Continue reading…]

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