Ocean Currents – Breath of Life

Ocean Currents – Breath of Life

Music; Ambience: ocean

Take a deep breath and think of all the plants that produce the oxygen in the air we breath in the process known as photosynthesis. But did you know where half of the photosynthesis on Earth takes place? I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“They’re sort of like the grass of the ocean, and they get light from the sun.”

Jorge Sarmiento is a Professor at Princeton University. He’s talking about phytoplankton; one-celled plants which live on the surface of the ocean and which form the basis of what scientists call biological productivity.

“They get nutrients from the water, dissolved in the sea water, which comes up from below, and they form organic matter. And that’s the base of the food web in the oceans; and biological productivity specifically is the amount of photosynthesis that goes on in the ocean, which a lot of people don’t realize is actually equal to the photosynthesis that goes on land. Roughly, there’s as much photosynthesis going on in the ocean as there is on land.”

“Photosynthesis is the sort of base of the food web for all life on Earth. Almost all of life on Earth is, of course, driven by energy that comes from the sun. So, the photosynthesis that goes on is the whole base of the food web on which you get then – animals, zooplankton, fish and whales and everything else lives off of that, so it’s absolutely critical for life.”

Now the ocean is a dynamic place – nothing stands still, including the phytoplankton and the nutrients they feed upon. Scientists are just beginning to understand the forces that maintain the level of biological production so essential to the air we breathe.

We’ll hear more in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Ocean Currents - Breath of Life

Did you know where half of the photosynthesis on earth takes place?
Air Date:06/07/2004
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Transcript:

Ocean Currents - Breath of Life

Music; Ambience: ocean

Take a deep breath and think of all the plants that produce the oxygen in the air we breath in the process known as photosynthesis. But did you know where half of the photosynthesis on Earth takes place? I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"They're sort of like the grass of the ocean, and they get light from the sun."

Jorge Sarmiento is a Professor at Princeton University. He's talking about phytoplankton; one-celled plants which live on the surface of the ocean and which form the basis of what scientists call biological productivity.

"They get nutrients from the water, dissolved in the sea water, which comes up from below, and they form organic matter. And that's the base of the food web in the oceans; and biological productivity specifically is the amount of photosynthesis that goes on in the ocean, which a lot of people don't realize is actually equal to the photosynthesis that goes on land. Roughly, there's as much photosynthesis going on in the ocean as there is on land."

"Photosynthesis is the sort of base of the food web for all life on Earth. Almost all of life on Earth is, of course, driven by energy that comes from the sun. So, the photosynthesis that goes on is the whole base of the food web on which you get then - animals, zooplankton, fish and whales and everything else lives off of that, so it's absolutely critical for life."

Now the ocean is a dynamic place - nothing stands still, including the phytoplankton and the nutrients they feed upon. Scientists are just beginning to understand the forces that maintain the level of biological production so essential to the air we breathe.

We'll hear more in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.