Saturday, July 11, 2009

Diatoms in the Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean was once full of life
Posted on July 11, 2009 by robertkyriakides

The Arctic Ocean is home to very few types of life. There are some plankton and algae, which provide the food for small fish, worms, crustaceans and molluscs, which in turn are eaten by cod. The cod are eaten by seals and the seals are eaten by polar bears. Of course, it is all a bit more complicated than that but there are not many different varieties of life in the Arctic Ocean because the fact that the ocean is mostly frozen tends to limit the size of the food chain.

If you look point a powerful microscope at cores of mud that have been extracted from beneath the Arctic Ocean you will see, I am reliably informed, diatoms. Diatoms are very small algae. From the pattern of the distribution and arrangement of diatoms you can, according to Alan Kemp of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, reconstruct the Arctic Ocean’s climate. From Mr Kemp’s observations he has deduced that the Arctic was once rich in life of many varieties, because of the sheer numbers and distribution of the diatoms. It was once as rich in life as the Indian Ocean is today.

From this it seems that the Arctic was once ice free, certainly in the summer time, and possibly for some of the winter. The diatoms were laid down in the ocean floor mud at the same time as when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Some think that the Arctic Ocean will be free of ice in the next twenty or so years. If that happens then whatever the climate change consequences (which are likely to be very unpleasant for humanity) the consequences of an Arctic Ocean supporting far more life than it does today will be to provide a much needed source food for those animals at the top of the practical food chain – humans.

Why wait for the Arctic Ocean to thaw to get more Diatoms.
There are better ways to do this - Nualgi and this will prevent the Arctic Ocean from thawing.

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