Research Report: Arctic phytoplankton blooming earlier

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.

by Lynne Friedmann

Warming temperatures and melting ice in the Arctic may be behind a progressively earlier bloom of a crucial marine event; the annual spring bloom of phytoplankton — tiny plants at the base of the ocean food chain.

Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD, along with colleagues in Portugal and Mexico, plotted the annual phytoplankton bloom in the Arctic Ocean and found the peak timing of the event has been progressing earlier each year for more than a decade. Analyzing satellite data depicting ocean color and phytoplankton production, scientists conclude that the spring bloom has come up to 50 days earlier in some areas.

During the one- to two-week spring bloom, a major influx of new organic carbon enters the marine ecosystem through a massive peak in phytoplankton photosynthesis, which converts carbon dioxide into organic matter as part of the global carbon cycle. Phytoplankton blooms, in turn, stimulate production of zooplankton, microscopic marine animals, which become a food source for other marine life.

The findings appear in the journal Global Change Biology. News release at bit.ly/fv43AL.

Digital cinema project honored

For the fourth year in a row and the fifth time in six years, a project involving the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) is the winner of a prestigious award for Experimental/Developmental Applications in high-performance networking. The winning project showed how advanced broadband networks, telepresence, and software tools can dramatically change the way Hollywood studios make movies.

The Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California bestowed the award on a team led by CineGrid, an international research consortium for networked media arts, which staged a joint demonstration with Walt Disney Studios last October of advanced networking and tools for post-production editing and scoring of films by creative teams located in disparate locations. News release at bit.ly/fpc8iK.

Uncovering rare receptors

Receptors found on cells are among the most important targets for the development of drugs because of the key roles they play in the communication circuits regulating various body functions. But, so far, scientists have identified only a few of the receptors present on different types of nerve cells.

Now, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute and University of Pennsylvania have found a way to uncover 20 to 30 times more receptors than previous studies have identified. By applying the new method to a type of nerve cell critical to regulating body temperature, the authors found more than 400 receptors responding to neurotransmitters, hormones, and other chemical signals.
The technique is described in the journal Pharmacology and Therapeutics. News release at bit.ly/eX8kXo.

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Posted by Staff on Mar 14, 2011. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Research Report, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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