Friday, 16 January 2009

Amazing algae

A humble organism living in our oceans could provide a breakthrough in the battle against climate crisis. Salps eat the algae that absorb greenhouse gases and then lock away the carbon at the bottom of the ocean. An average swarm can absorb 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per night.

These jelly-like creatures, about the size of a finger, eat great quantities of phytoplankton and excrete carbon-rich pellets which sink to the ocean floor. They are effectively a natural carbon capture and sequestration agent, and research indicates that their numbers have increased more than ten-fold in the last 70 years in the coast off south east Australia - perhaps a sign that our planet is addressing the greenhouse gas problem itself. Treehugger has an interesting article here.

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