Over the last 50 years, around 24,000 square kilometres (9,200 square miles) of new open water have been created this way, and swathes of it are now colonised by phytoplankton, Peck's team reports in a specialist journal, Global Change Biology.
Their estimate, based on images of green algal blooms, is that the phytoplankton absorbs 3.5 million tonnes of carbon, equivalent to 12.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas.
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