How can Phytoplankton, the microscopic plants that live in the ocean which perform two-thirds of all the Earth’s photosynthesis and directly affects the concentrations of CO2 in the ocean, be left out in the climate simulation model for the whole time?

Global climate models are missing a good chunk of plant information that could significantly alter long-term climate change predictions. A new technique for modeling phytoplankton — microscopic plants in the upper layers of the Earth’s waters — could reveal a much more accurate picture.

“(Other) modelers have populated their oceans with three or four kinds of plants, said Mick Follows, a researcher in MIT’s Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate. “We’ve represented a much more diverse community, and allowed it to have interactions that regulate it more naturally.”

Phytoplankton populations are constantly changing, which makes them difficult to predict. So the MIT researchers developed an algorithm using evolutionary principles to more accurately represent the microscopic plants. A more precise count is important because phytoplankton process carbon dioxide — a significant contributor to global warming.

Original Article via WIRED