News

Seeding oceans with iron may not impact climate change

Historically, the oceans have done much of the planet s heavy lifting when it comes to sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Microscopic organisms known collectively as phytoplankton, which grow throughout the sunlit surface oceans and absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, are a key player.

advertisement

To help stem escalating carbon dioxide emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels, some scientists have proposed seeding the oceans with iron -- an essential ingredient that can stimulate phytoplankton growth. Such "iron fertilization" would cultivate vast new fields of phytoplankton, particularly in areas normally bereft of marine life.

A new MIT study suggests that iron fertilization may not have a significant impact on phytoplankton growth, at least on a global scale.

The researchers studied the interactions between phytoplankton, iron, and other nutrients in the ocean that help phytoplankton grow. Their simulations suggest that on a global scale, marine life has tuned ocean chemistry through these interactions, evolving to maintain a level of ocean iron that supports a delicate balance of nutrients in various regions of the world.

"According to our framework, iron fertilization cannot have a significant overall effect on the amount of carbon in the ocean because the total amount of iron that microbes need is already just right, says lead author Jonathan Lauderdale, a research scientist in MIT s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
Read more on sciencedaily.com
News Topics :
Similar Articles :
Science
Geoengineering Climate Change Phytoplankton Geoengineering Iron Fertilization Iron Climate Change Carbon Dioxide Climate Change Nitrogen Levels Fossils Science News During Earth s last ice age, iron dust dumped into the...
Science
Water dripping off of icebergs in the Antarctic Ocean contains nutrients for phytoplankton, which can help absorb carbon dioxide. Melting icebergs may be fighting against the very forces that cause them to melt,...
Science
A new MIT study finds that over the coming decades climate change will affect the ocean’s color, intensifying its blue regions and its green ones. Credit NASA Earth Observatory A...
Science
I did a calculation once on a ton of ocean water, says Seth John, an assistant professor in the department of marine science at the University of South Carolina. The...
Science
A newly discovered source of oceanic bioavailable iron could have a major impact our understanding of marine food chains and global warming. Scientists have discovered that summer meltwaters from ice sheets...