Ocean iron and CO2 interaction studied

Apr 26, 2007

A French study suggested that iron supply changes from deep water to the ocean's surface might have a greater effect on atmospheric CO2 than thought.

The finding by Stephane Blain and colleagues at the University of the Mediterranean have implications for interpretations of past climate change, as well as future climate predictions.

Iron plays an important role in the carbon cycle because phytoplankton need iron to fix energy into carbon, which is then sequestered in the deep ocean when the microorganisms die and sink. But the exact effect of changes in iron supply on the amount of carbon sequestered remains unclear.

The researchers studied a phytoplankton bloom that occurs in the Southern Ocean and found the ratio of carbon exported to the ocean interior to the amount of iron supplied is at least 10 times higher than previous thought.

The difference occurs because the iron is supplied slowly and continuously and because the bloom is dependent on the supply of major nutrients from below. That indicates such high efficiencies are unlikely to be achieved through artificial "fertilization" of the ocean with iron.

The research appears in the journal Nature.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Simulations suggests cutting rainforests in mid and high latitudes can impact rainfall in northern hemisphere

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What is Mars made of?

Feb 26, 2015

For thousands of years, human beings have stared up at the sky and wondered about the Red Planet. Easily seen from Earth with the naked eye, ancient astronomers have charted its course across the heavens ...

What is heat conduction?

Dec 09, 2014

Heat is an interesting form of energy. Not only does it sustain life, make us comfortable and help us prepare our food, but understanding its properties is key to many fields of scientific research. For example, ...

Recommended for you

Lightning plus volcanic ash make glass

38 minutes ago

In their open-access paper for Geology, Kimberly Genareau and colleagues propose, for the first time, a mechanism for the generation of glass spherules in geologic deposits through the occurrence of volcan ...

A new level of earthquake understanding

5 hours ago

As everyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area knows, the Earth moves under our feet. But what about the stresses that cause earthquakes? How much is known about them? Until now, our understanding of ...

Combined Arctic ice observations show decades of loss

8 hours ago

It's no surprise that Arctic sea ice is thinning. What is new is just how long, how steadily, and how much it has declined. University of Washington researchers compiled modern and historic measurements to ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

out7x
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2007
Phytoplankton death could explain the numerous CO2 spikes throughout geologic time.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.