Carbon fixation in future oceans: experimental adaptation of algal and cyanobacterial CO2-concentrating mechanisms to a changing climate

Lead PI: Dr. Sarah J Hurley , Dr. Boswell Wing

Unit Affiliation: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

January 2023 - December 2025
Project Type: Research


Photosynthetic marine microorganisms, or phytoplankton, use carbon dioxide to build their biomass. When phytoplankton die and sink, they transfer this carbon to the deep ocean, sequestering it away from the atmosphere. This process, known as the biological pump, has tempered the effect of climate change through the absorption of anthropogenic carbon dioxide.  The efficiency of the biological pump – and the ocean’s continued ability to absorb carbon dioxide in the future – will depend on the ability of different phytoplankton groups to adapt to effects of climate change in marine environments, such as warming and acidification. In order to quantify how the cumulative effects of subcellular processes will determine the amount of carbon dioxide phytoplankton use in future oceans, this research tests the adaptability of different phytoplankton groups to the expected conditions in year 2100 and year 2500 oceans.