How a Microscopic Team Alters the Course of Carbon in the Atlantic Ocean

Laurence Yeung, University of California, Los Angeles and Meg Rosenburg, California Institute of Technology

The Amazon river is the largest river in the world. It drains the entire Amazon rainforest, sending leftover nutrients, detritus, and minerals from the South American jungle out into the tropical Atlantic Ocean. This runoff forms a freshwater plume, hundreds of miles across, that profoundly affects the ocean underneath it. In the video below, researchers share their findings from a study of the outer edge of the plume, where a unique microbial partnership takes place: a microscopic plant called a diatom teams up with a microbe called a cyanobacterium. Together, they are able to grow rapidly and isolate carbon in the ocean. Watch the video to see what they found out about this special microscopic relationship. 

This video came in second place in the inaugural Ocean 180 Video Challenge in 2014, hosted by the Florida Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE Florida). Scientists were challenged to bring their latest research papers to life in a short video that not only summarizes their important findings but also highlights the relevance, meaning, and implications of the research to people outside of their area of study. Submitted videos were reviewed by a panel of scientists and communication experts, but the final winners were selected by a diverse (and often very critical!) group of potential future ocean scientists–6th to 8th grade students from classrooms around the world.