by Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, June 5, 2019 in WUWT
More “settled science” of the carbon cycle~ctm
Stanford study shows how hydrothermal vents fuel massive phytoplankton blooms — and possible hotspots for carbon storage
Researchers at Stanford University say they have found an aquatic highway that lets nutrients from Earth’s belly sweep up to surface waters off the coast of Antarctica and stimulate explosive growth of microscopic ocean algae.
Their study, published June 5 in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that hydrothermal vents – openings in the seafloor that gush scorching hot streams of mineral-rich fluid – may affect life near the ocean’s surface and the global carbon cycle more than previously thought.
Mathieu Ardyna, a postdoctoral scholar and the study’s lead author, said the research provides the first observed evidence of iron from the Southern Ocean’s depths turning normally anemic surface waters into hotspots for phytoplankton – the tiny algae that sustain the marine food web, pull heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the air and produce a huge amount of the oxygen we breathe. “Our study shows that iron from hydrothermal vents can well up, travel across hundreds of miles of open ocean and allow phytoplankton to thrive in some very unexpected places,” he said.
Kevin Arrigo, a professor of Earth system science and senior author of the paper, called the findings “important because they show how intimately linked the deep ocean and surface ocean can be.”