Phytoplankton is the foundation of the oceanic food chain Photo/NOAA MESA Project.

Want to help climatologists study the effects of climate change on the ocean? There’s an app for that.

Climate scientists are hoping boaters with smart phones around the world participate in a program aimed at studying phytoplankton levels in the ocean. Scientists are concerned as to why phytoplankton concentrations have dropped by 40 percent since 1950.

The microorganism phytoplankton, also called microalgae, might be small, but it plays a huge role on the planet. They produce half of the oxygen in the air we breathe and are responsible for 50 percent of the Earth’s photosynthesis. Whales, jellyfish, shrimp and other marine life feast on it, making it a critical part of the marine food chain.

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