Lennart Bach, marine biologist at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel investigates a tiny organism that can hardly be seen with the naked eye – and is still visible from space. The single-celled calcifying alga that his research focuses on is called Emiliania huxleyi. It is a true multi-talent: Its calcium carbonate platelets carry organic material from the surface to the deep ocean, which regulates carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. A gas that it releases – and that we perceive as the typical sea smell – is thought to serve as cooling agent in the climate system.
Experiments revealed that the alga is able to adapt to ocean acidification through evolution to a certain degree. But in its natural environment, it fails to prevail. But nonetheless Lennart Bach thinks: “The organism has frequently surprised us. So it would not be entirely astonishing if there was another twist in the plot.”