"Why fertilising the ocean with iron is not such a crazy idea."

Geoengineering climate change

#Environment

Fri, Aug 29th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On aeon, a fabulous article on marine biologist Victor Smetacek, who plans on reversing the effects of climate change by providing plankton cells with the nutrients they need so that they can proliferate. Here's why:

[...] Much of the oxygen we breathe comes from just one species of cyanobacteria, Prochlorococcus. This species was not even discovered until the 1980s: it is so tiny that millions can fit into a single drop of water and no one had produced a sieve small enough to catch it. The oxygen made by these tiny marine plants dwarfs that produced by the Amazon rainforest and the rest of the world’s woodlands combined. By taking in CO2 and exhaling oxygen, these tiny creatures serve as the planet’s lungs, whose steady breathing is limited only by nutrition. Just as land plants need nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements to thrive, missing nutrients restrain planktons’ growth. Add enough of those missing elements – via dust blown off a continent or fertiliser run-off from farm fields – and the oceans will produce blooms that can be seen from space.

Many of these plankton pastures are held back by iron shortages, especially in places that are largely cut off from continental dust and dirt. With access to more iron, the plankton would proliferate and siphon more and more planet-heating CO2 from the atmosphere. [...]

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