Calcification: Does it pay off in the future ocean?

An international research team has calculated the costs and benefits of calcification for phytoplankton and the impact of climate change on their important role in the world's oceans.Single-celled phytoplankton play an important role in marine biogeochemical cycling, in marine food webs and in the global climate system. Coccolithophores are a particular group that cover themselves with calcium carbonate shields, known as coccoliths. Some wrap themselves in an impenetrable coat of coccoliths, some make coccoliths in the form of sharp spikes, some use them as parasols against the sun and some form funnel-shaped light collectors.But this requires a lot of energy -- and the price for the artful armour could rise further due to global change. With the help of a new model, the researchers analysed the energetic costs and benefits of calcification. The results, published in the current issue of the journal Science Advances, suggest that the ecological niche for calcifying algae will become narrower in the future.

Popcorn-like fossils provide evidence of environmental impacts on species numbers

The number of species that can exist on Earth depends on how the environment changes, according to new research led by the University of Southampton.By analysing the fossil record of microscopic aquatic creatures called planktonic foraminifera, whose fossil remains now resemble miniaturised popcorn and date back millions of years, the research provided the first statistical evidence that environmental changes put a cap on species richness.

New study links carbon emissions and climate warming

Research has identified, for the first time, how global warming is related to the amount of carbon emitted.​A team of researchers from the universities of Southampton, Bristol and Liverpool have derived the first theoretical equation to demonstrate that global warming is a direct result of the build-up of carbon emissions since the late 1800s when human-made carbon emissions began. The results are in accord with previous data from climate models.The theoretical equation reveals the complex relationship between carbon dioxide levels and the ocean system. Burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric carbon dioxide levels leading to global warming and the greenhouse effect, which is partly offset by the oceans taking in both heat and carbon.