What Produce Oxygen on Planet Earth?
Everybody knows that trees and plants produce a part of the oxygen we need to breathe, but did you know that oxygen can come from the ocean as well?
What produces more oxygen? Ocean and seas or trees and plants?
In our weekly how and why we will speak how oceans and seas produce oxygen and in which proportion.
Oceans Produce More Oxygen Than Trees
Ocean and seas produce more oxygen than plant and trees, and the proportions are not even close!
Yes, most of the air we breathe comes from the water surrounding our planet! But how?
It is produced by marine plants and trillions of tiny one-celled organisms called Phytoplankton, found in both salt and fresh bodies of water.
Trees don't produce most of the Earth's oxygen, which makes up 21 percent of the Earth's atmosphere, the ocean does. These plant organisms are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but when billions of them gather together during an algal bloom, they look like green slime (chlorophyll give them their color).
They may be too tiny to see, but phytoplanktons are one of the most important organisms needed for the ocean and the rest of the planet to survive.
What is phytoplankton?
Before to give you the surprising oxygen production scale of the oceans, let's talk about the phytoplankton.
Phytoplanktons are the base of the aquatic food web. The name comes from the Greek words: planktos meaning drifter or wanderer and phyton, meaning plant.
Knowing that these microscopic planktons are the base of the aquatic food chain, also mean they are the primary source of food for animals as tiny as zooplanktons to fishes and massive whales.
Without them, there would be no marine creatures for a balanced ecosystem at all.
What is the life of a phytoplankton?
Most of the phytoplankton stay buoyant on the surface where sunlight penetrates the water. They are self-feeding organisms that survive by absorbing sunlight and nutrients in the water.
Like plants, they absorb sunlight and use its energy for photosynthesis, releasing oxygen in the process that eventually makes its way to the atmosphere.
Additionally, phytoplankton photosynthesis has contributed to controlling the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide since the early Precambrian Eon. They can also be found in freshwater bodies like lakes. The most common kind of phytoplankton is the Diatom, a major group of microalgae.
How much oxygen does phytoplankton produce?
Aquatic-living plants and photosynthesizing organisms release molecular oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis (like most plants) which contributes to the air we breathe.
Phytoplankton is the dominating class in providing O2 (oxygen) in the atmosphere. It is believed that phytoplankton photosynthesis only produce half of the planet's air for breathing, but if you think about it, our ocean covers 71 percent of the Earth. Scientists estimate that they produce an astonishing 50 to 85 percent of the Earth's oxygen!
Also, according to the National Geographic website, students have calculated that 70% of the Earth's oxygen is produced by phytoplankton (Prochlorococcus) as well as other aquatic plants while the forest and other inland plant and trees produce only 28% of the oxygen we breathe!
In labs, scientists can determine how much O2 a single phytoplankton can produce. However, it is difficult to calculate precisely how much percentage, all in all, phytoplanktons contribute to the atmosphere. It is hard figuring out their total number throughout Earth's oceans and other bodies of water. Phytoplanktons increase and decrease in number by the season. They bloom more during spring when nutrients and light are more available.
Ocean Oxygen Researches and References
If you want to know more about Oceans and Oxygen, take a look at some of our references below.
- Facts Phytoplankton
- Phytoplankton Bloom in the Barents Sea
- How much oceans do add the world oxygen
- Breath you take from Oceans
- How do trees give Earth O2
- How can you breath where trees don't grow
- Half of Earth Oxygen
- The forgotten planet's lung
- 70% of the oxygen comme from the ocean
- Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth
Speaking about oceans, How deep can mammals dive?
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The Research and Media Team at Scotty's.
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