Mapping the ocean's unseen heroes, one microbe at a time

phys.org | 5/3/2016 | Staff
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The picture of how climate change is impacting our ocean is often told via its larger inhabitants: scrawny polar bears, bleached coral, dwindling catch in fishing nets. But just as importantly, microscopic marine organisms play an essential role in our biosphere.

Not only do they form the foundational building blocks of the underwater food-web, but it's estimated that marine microbes consume almost 50% of the Earth's carbon dioxide through the process of photosynthesis.

Eye - Health - Movement - Marine - Microbes

Invisible to the naked eye, the health and movement of marine microbes that drift as part of the plankton is difficult to picture even for scientists—let alone everyday citizens.

This challenge, to visualise the range of conditions that drifting marine microbes encounter, brought a group of expert scientists and visual designers together on a path to create the online citizen science project Adrift.

Adrift - Public - Lives - Microscopic - Marine

Adrift is a portal that connects the public with the lives of microscopic marine microbes as they are propelled around the globe by ocean currents, with temperature and nutrient availability changing along the way.

Lead researcher and biological oceanographer Professor Martina Doblin from the University of Technology Sydney, says Adrift is designed to engage a diversity of participants, including those who may not have technical or scientific expertise.

People - View - Conditions - Experience - Parts

"We want to give people a view of what conditions microbes experience in different parts of the ocean, to provide clues...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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