Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tiny plants with a global impact

29.01.2009
Results of climate change experiment published

A possible solution to global warming may be further away than ever, according to a new report published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature this week.

Scientists measuring how much of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is locked away in the deep ocean by plankton when it dies found that it was significantly less than previous estimates.

Plankton is a natural sponge for carbon dioxide. It occurs naturally in the ocean and its growth is stimulated by iron which it uses to photosynthesise and grow. When plankton dies it sinks to the bottom of the ocean locking away some of the carbon it has absorbed from the atmosphere.

Fertilising plankton by the artificial addition of iron has long been proposed as a potential way to geo-engineer the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Researchers analysed an area of the Southern ocean known to be naturally rich in iron and their report reveals that the amount of carbon sequestered to the deep ocean for a given input of natural iron falls far short of previous geo-engineering estimates. This has serious implications for proposals to influence climate change through iron fertilisation of the sea.

Yet some researchers believe that the theory should not be discounted and that more research is needed

Dr Gary Fones is a marine biogeochemist at the University of Portsmouth’s School of Earth and Environmental Science. He was part of the team which carried out the study around the Crozet islands in the Southern ocean.

He said: “We know that carbon is transported to the deep ocean and seabed via the plankton, but the question is how much and for how long?” The combined results of all the studies undertaken so far indicate that there could be other factors influencing the amount of carbon exported.

“No-one has found a solution yet to tackle the issue of global warming and further research is needed to determine exactly what’s going on, particularly with regards to iron fertilisation.”

The report is timely as it coincides with the recent halt of a controversial Indo-German expedition also in the Southern Ocean. Just days ago, a ship carrying scientists from India and Germany were prevented from dumping iron into the sea as part of an experiment to artificially fertilise the ocean and stimulate phytoplankton growth.

Reports suggest that the German government suspended the operation following claims by green campaigners that it breaches a UN moratorium on ocean fertilisation. But the scientists involved believe that legitimate scientific experiments were specifically approved by the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) and they assert that the research is crucial to understanding more.

Dr Fones agrees. He argues that the experiment is not so-called geo-engineering for profit but is part of an important piece of research. He said:

“Efforts to find a solution to global warming are under threat by those people who are most concerned about climate change. But legitimate experiments like this one are crucial to learning more about the effects of iron fertilisation and will help scientists evaluate the merits of such a scheme.”

He agrees that adding iron in large quantities could potentially damage the whole biological food chain but argues that the German-Indian experiment is literally a drop in the ocean. Experiments like this will have a minimal impact on the surrounding area but will massively further our understanding of the science.”

Lisa Egan | alfa
Further information:
http://www.port.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Porous crystalline materials: TU Graz researcher shows method for controlled growth

07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>