Climate models have been missing a significant variable–accurately depicted Phytoplankton.
Phytoplankton perform two-thirds of all the Earth’s photosynthesis — the process by which plants turn light, nutrients and carbon dioxide into food. The amount of CO2 processed by phytoplankton during photosynthesis affects concentrations of CO2 in the water, which determines how much of the greenhouse gas the oceans can absorb.
Follows and his colleagues created a model ocean seeded with dozens of randomly generated types of phytoplankton. Like the real ocean, the model accounted for variations in light, temperature and food.
Having set the parameters, Follows’ team turned the model on. Over 10 simulated years, the digital creatures competed to survive. Some died out, others flourished, and they gradually settled into their respective niches.
Current marine-modeling systems don’t factor in the phytoplankton’s ever-evolving nature.
First reference I’ve seen of the integration of at least an aspect of the Gaia Hypothesis into the Gaian climate models. I wonder if it will be possible to add it to previously existing climate software modularly, or if the code will have to be rewritten from scratch.