Oceans are in trouble

But Understanding Plankton Can Help Us Protect Them

ETH Zurich

Climate change and pollution are serious threats to all ocean life, from giant whales to tiny plankton.

But there is still time to save it.

To do that effectively, we need smart, data-driven policies and effective science-to-policy feedback loops. Only then we can truly protect marine biodiversity and mitigate the effects of climate change on a large, international scale.

It turns out, understanding plankton might just be the way to go.

Plankton Monitoring Tool
is Changing the Game in Ocean Conservation

To help bridge the knowledge gap and support global policymakers in creating effective marine conservation regulations, a joint science-to-policy project was launched to create MAPMAKER – a web-based, analytical tool for plankton monitoring. 

The app provides information on the marine ecosystem’s current state and projected future plankton diversity changes in different climate scenarios. Such information is vital for preserving ocean health and creating effective and impactful laws on the international policy level.

It focuses on plankton because of its importance to the marine ecosystem and natural properties, such as extreme sensitivity to environmental changes and marine pollution.

It is the first global plankton diversity and biogeography visualization as a function of time and emission scenario.

Protect Plankton – Protect Ocean’s Health

Plankton are the superstars of the ocean.
Yet, they are still one of the lesser-known and understood marine communities. 


Firstly, there is a vast diversity of marine plankton species – tiny organisms carried by tides and currents, which cannot swim well enough to move against those forces. Secondly, until recently there was no easily available, global-scale observational data.

Right now, data availability is increasing exponentially each day. But this poses new problems.
How to process, analyse and interpret such vast amounts of data to know how to best protect plankton – a crucial marine ecosystem? 

MAPMAKER is the answer to that. It supports international policymakers by providing them with the missing information necessary for the protection of global plankton diversity and for maintaining oceans’ health.

Why is Plankton so important?

They form the base of the entire marine food web.

They help regulate Earth’s climate by consuming carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

Their natural properties make them extremely sensitive to environmental changes and marine pollution, making them invaluable in assessing the ecosystem’s health.

They export carbon from the surface layers to the deeper ocean in the process known as the ocean’s biological carbon pump.

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