Image: Katherina Petrou who writes stories about algae - picture books for children and scientific papers for the IPCC (International Panel for Climate Change).
"...We are algae, moved by ocean currents, frozen in ice, sinking to the ocean floor. We link the ocean with the atmosphere, breathing in CO2 and exhaling oxygen. We take the sun's energy and produce organic carbon, feeding the hungry creatures of the ocean. Giving life to all, we are algae..."
"...I am Navicula, a small diatom [type of algae] found in the cool waters of the Southern Ocean. I build my cell wall out of silica, forming a suit of armour made from glass, which protects me from some hungry predators and provides me with ballast, the ability to maintain buoyant in the big ocean. My glass-like outer structure means that I can last forever, forming fossils in the ocean’s sediments that can reveal secrets about our planet’s past. Although I have existed for hundreds of millions of years, I am sensitive to the changes in my environment.
As scientists we predict (Petrou et al. 2019) that with the acidification of the oceans my silica-armour will start to thin. This change will impact my survival in the surface waters, where I will be less protected from hungry grazers. It will also erase me from future geological history, as my silica structure will no longer be preserved in the ocean sediments."
Katherina Petrou 2020