Algae and Climate Change: The Complex and Integral Relationship between Biology and Weather

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Algae and Climate Change: The Complex and Integral Relationship Between Biology and Weather Introduction Climate scientists around the world overwhelmingly agree that mankind is responsible for a warming trend and for other changes to the global climate as a result of greenhouse gas emission form the burning of fossil fuels. This is far from a simple cause-and-effect system, however, given the global scale of the issue there are necessarily many factors that interact in complex manners to changes in atmospheric gases and to the Earth's climate. Understanding the manner in which other biological agents counteract, contribute to, and/or are affected by human impacts on the climate and the climate overall is essential to understanding the larger climate change issues. The following pages examine how algae is related to global climate change, noting a far more significant impact than most lay observers might expect. Algae's Role in Climate Regulation To suggest that small, often microscopic organisms could have a substantial impact on the Earth's climate might at first appear irrational. The minute chemical interactions that these organisms facilitate and their physical presence can have tremendous impacts on climate and specifically on how human-produced atmospheric carbon influences the rest of the global climate (Hays et al, 2005; Wilhelm et al, 2006; Sun et al, 2009; Kumar et al, 2011). Algae can exist in very large populations or "blooms" that magnify the effects

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