UV Effects on Phytoplankton
Phytoplankton help absorb billions of tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year. These tiny organisms are sensitive to overexposure from solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Changing weather patterns may increase the exposure of phytoplankton to UV radiation, potentially reducing their ability to help sequester carbon. Smithsonian researcher Patrick Neale and his lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center are studying UV impacts on phytoplankton in the Antarctic oceans, where the single-celled plants are abundant, to help create models of how phytoplankton respond in various scenarios of climate change.