How productive are phytoplankton? New research techniques may now point
toward answers. Scientists have long tried to quantify the output of these
little green cells. They're microscopic marine plants, and individually they
don't amount to much. But take the measure of a few trillion at once, and
you're seeing one of Earth's most important climate influencers.
Phytoplankton take up massive quantities of carbon as they grow and release
as much as half the oxygen we breathe into the atmosphere. Solving the
elusive measurements of productivity means that scientists will have new
tools for studying the health of Earth¹s biosphere.
I'm Michael Starobin, reporting.