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Changes in Ocean Productivity
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Changes in Ocean Productivity

October 1, 2003
Plant life in the world’s oceans has become less productive since the early 1980s, absorbing less carbon, which may in turn impact the Earth’s carbon cycle. Watson Gregg, a NASA GSFC researcher, finds that the oceans’ net primary productivity (NPP) has declined more than 6 percent globally over the last two decades, possibly as a result of climatic changes. NPP is the rate at which plant cells take in CO2 during photosynthesis, using the carbon for growth. Gregg and colleagues used two datasets from NASA satellites: one from the Coastal Zone Color Scanner aboard NASA’s Nimbus-7 satellite (1979-1986); and another from the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor on the OrbView-2 satellite (1997-2002).


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