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Picture of the Day

In the ocean's twilight zone, tiny organisms may have giant effect on Earth's carbon cycle

Deep in the ocean's twilight zone, swarms of ravenous single-celled organisms may be altering Earth's carbon cycle in ways scientists never expected, according to a new study from Florida State University researchers. In the area 100 to 1,000 meters below the ocean's surface -- dubbed the twilight zone because of its largely impenetrable darkness -- scientists found that tiny organisms called phaeodarians are consuming sinking, carbon-rich particles before they settle on the seabed, where they would otherwise be stored and sequestered from the atmosphere for millennia. This discovery, researchers suggest, could indicate the need for a re-evaluation of how carbon circulates throughout the ocean, and a new appraisal of the role these microorganisms might play in Earth's shifting climate.

Visit Website | Image credit: Mike Stukel/Florida State University