Iron Fertilization Creates Short-Lived Carbon Sink in Southern Ocean

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Researchers discover that iron fertilization creates short-lived carbon sink in the Southern Ocean, according to a study conducted on April 5, 2018.

The results of trial conducted by researchers in the Southern Ocean reveals that addition of each atom of iron to the sea can pull 10,000 to 100,000 atoms of carbon from the atmosphere and will increase growth of plankton. Planktons capture carbon and sink it deep into the ocean. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which leads to global warming can be reduced to a large extent by scaling up iron fertilization of the sea. Researchers say that this method will be able to absorb 15 percent of carbon dioxide that is build-up in the atmosphere. Also, according to the ecologists, this method can damage the marine ecosystems.

Oceanographers from Californian marine research institute dropped 1.7 tons of iron sulfate into the sea and carbon flux was measured using floating robots. Russ George, chief scientist of the California-based Planktos Foundation said, “It is a worthy endeavor to mitigate future global warming.” Iron is essential for plant growth and it reaches oceans through winds that carry eroded, iron rich soils from dry land. The growth of plankton has reduced due to changes in climate and vegetation. Moreover, ecological risks of iron seeding are also looked upon by the researchers.

Victor Smetacek, a biological oceanographer said, “For the first time we have the tools for large-scale operations with ocean ecosystems. You will not do away with the mess that mankind has already made without using these tools. But we must face the challenge of using them responsibly.”

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