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    Big Data Evaluation of Marine Carbon Fixation Driven by Planktonic Microalgae
    Update time: 2017-10-31
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    Increasing emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are now facilitating global warming, which seriously threatens human life and social sustainable development. Curbing dangerous climate change requires deep cuts in emissions, as well as enhancing carbon sequestration. The ocean plays important roles in climate change mitigation due to its high capability in absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. For example, about 1/3 of the annual CO2 emissions can be absorbed by the ocean. Indeed, the high capability of carbon sequestration in the ocean is mainly driven by microbes including bacteria, viruses, protozoan and picophytoplankton, etc.  

    Picophytoplankton refers to microscopic plants that live in water which usually is planktonic and tiny algae. It is the most abundant photoautotrophic organism in the ocean. In some areas, over 80% of the total oceanic carbon fixation is contributed by picophytoplankton. The accurate estimation of carbon fixation of picophytoplankton in a wide survey on large spatiotemporal scales is still a challenge.

    Recently, the marine carbon sequestration and ecological environment research group lead by Prof. ZHANG Yongyu at Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), developed a modified carbon-based ocean productivity model (CbPM) to successfully achieve this goal. They are establishing a big picophytoplankton abundance database covering nearly all China Sea. Using the CbPM method, Dr. LIANG Yantao in the research group calculated that the annual carbon fixation by picophytoplankton in Bohai Sea is about 1.5 million tons of carbon. In other words, picophytoplankton in the Bohai Sea can absorb 5.5 million tons of CO2 each year from the atmosphere.

    Based on the research progresses, QIBEBT is now leading the development of one National Ocean Occupation Standard on “Blue Carbon Investigation, Monitoring and Measurement: Picophytoplankton”.

    This study serves China Blue Carbon Initiative and is a contribution to the international IMBER project.  The work is supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China, the National Programme on Global Change and Air-Sea Interaction, Key R&D project in Shandong Province, NSFC project, and “135” project of CAS-QIBEBT R&D Innovation.

    The related progresses were published in Frontiers in Microbiology and FEMS Microbiology Ecology .

    Figure: marine carbon fixation and picophytoplankton abundance dataset in the China Sea ( Image by LIANG Yantao and ZHANG Yongyu)

     (Text by LIANG Yantao and ZHANG Yongyu)


    Prof. ZHANG Yongyu, Ph.D., 

    Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

    Tel: +86-0532-80662680     

    E-mail: zhangyy@qibebt.ac.cn


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