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Earth doesn't support as much life as once thought, study says


A new study says that the Earth supports 1/3 less life than once estimated.


John Moore

Earth's biomass is about one third less than previously thought a new study said.

That means that the Earth supports far less life than previous estimates had concluded.

Researchers at GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences said that the existing estimates of how much caborn is being stored in living organisms - an indicator of the Earth's biomass - needs to be revised, reported UPI.

Previous estimates said that about one thousand billion tons of carbon are being stored by all living things, including single cell microbes and even aquatic life.

Study authors said that, in particular, there is far less carbon stored in subseafloor organisms - four billion tons less, said TG Daily.

That revised number cuts Earth's biomass by about a third.

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"About half of the world's ocean is extremely nutrient-poor," said researcher Jens Kallmeyer, a geomicrobiologist at the University of Potsdam, reported Mother Nature Network.

"For the last 10 years it was already suspected that subseafloor biomass was overestimated. Unfortunately there were no data to prove it."

Mother Nature Network reported that the researchers, a team from the University of Potsdam and the University of Rhode Island, collected sendiment samples from areas far from water and compared them with ocean sendiments.

The latter was far less rich in nutrients than coastal sendiments. 

With these samples, the researchers were able to re-calculate the biomass found in marine sediment.

"Our new results show the need to re-examine the other numbers as, for example, the amount of carbon in deep sediments on land," said Kallmeyer, according to TG Daily.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.