Smallest plankton grow fastest with rising CO2

Friday, 13 September 2013

Could the future of the ocean depend on its smallest organisms? An experiment conducted as part of the European project EPOCA, coordinated by Jean-Pierre Gattuso of the Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche (CNRS/UPMC), has shown that pico- and nanoplankton benefit from increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the seawater, causing a disruption in the food chain. Two climate regulation processes are also affected: carbon export to the deep ocean and production of dimethyl sulfide, a gas that counteracts the greehouse effect. The study was conducted in the Arctic by a team of researchers, mainly from GEOMAR, CNRS and UPMC1, supported by the Institut Polaire Français. These results have been published in a special issue of Biogeosciences.

EPOCA experiment, Ny-Ålesund, Spitzbergen 2010. © Ray Zhang, University of Xiamen, China

EPOCA experiment, Ny-Ålesund, Spitzberg 2010. Mesocosm with a glacier in the background. © Jean-Pierre Gattuso (LOV, CNRS/UPMC)


1Thirteen European institutions participated in this study, particularly Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche (CNRS/UPMC), but also Station Biologique de Roscoff (CNRS/UPMC).


Arctic ocean acidification: pelagic ecosystem and biogeochemical responses during a mesocosm study. U. Riebesell, J.-P. Gattuso, T. F. Thingstad, and J. Middelburg. Biogeosciences Special Issue. Volume 10, 5619-5626, 2013. doi:10.5194/bg-10-5619-2013

  • Jean-Pierre Gattuso, LOV/OOV
    gattuso [at] obs-vlfr [dot] fr, 04 93 76 38 59