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    Climate Research Ship Docks in Argentina

    NTDTelevision

    by NTDTelevision

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    Called "Tara", the research ship is almost halfway through a voyage of discovery that began fourteen months ago in France.

    The three-year project aims to collect microorganisms from the world's oceans that could provide clues about climate change and its impact on the planet.

    Chief scientist Nicole Poulton says phytoplanktons are one of the best indicators of climate change.

    [Nicole Poulton, Chief scientist, Tara Expeditons]:
    "The phytoplankton are very small, microscopic, but they are the plants of the oceans and the oceans, as we know, cover about two thirds of the planet. Those phytoplankton produce about 50% of our oxygen so the organisms that we are studying actually affect our climate and our atmosphere, which we actually utilize."

    One cubic liter of sea water can contain hundreds or thousands of plankton.

    The same amount of water can also contain billions of viruses and bacteria, samples of which the team are also collecting.

    Port stops, like this one in Buenos Aires, are crucial. They allow samples to be picked up and transported for study to laboratories around the world.

    The boat's captain, Herve Bourmaud says Antacrtica will be the next stop on the journey.

    [Herve Bourmaud, Captain, Tara Expeditions]:
    "We are going to study the south of that sea to investigate the biology there. It is interesting because there have been very few studies in that area. For us it will be a challenge. The climatic conditions in that region are tough."

    The rotating crew of 15 also use the port stops to educate local scientists and school groups -- which they say is an important part of their mission.

    French non-profit organization Tara Expeditions is placing their findings in an open-source database, which can be used by scientists around the world.

    The voyage is set to end in France at the end of 2012.