Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Iron Fertilization Of Oceans

ScienceDaily (Sep. 26, 2007) — Several times over the past century, scientists and environmental engineers have proposed spreading slurries of dissolved iron into the oceans in order to “fertilize” the waters and promote vast blooms of marine plants (phytoplankton). Phytoplankton consume carbon dioxide as they grow, and this growth can be stimulated in certain ocean basins by the addition of iron, a necessary micronutrient.

New 'Dead Zone' Study May Have Far-ranging Effects On Midwest Agriculture

ScienceDaily (Oct. 5, 2006) — A new scientific review of the Gulf of Mexico's "Dead Zone" could have far-ranging implications for farming over millions of acres of the Midwest and for fertilizer sales, according to an article scheduled for the Oct. 2 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, the ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

The Dead Zone is a vast expanse of water off the Gulf's northern shore that becomes depleted in oxygen from spring to early autumn each year.

C&EN senior editor Cheryl Hogue explains that oxygen depletion creates a biological dead zone, where fish and other marine creatures cannot survive. The Dead Zone has been growing in size since the 1980s. In recent years it has involved an area larger than the state of Connecticut.

Excessive amounts of plant nutrients - primarily nitrate fertilizer that runs off agricultural land into the Mississippi River - causes the zone by fostering blooms of phytoplankton that die and decay in a process that removes dissolved oxygen from the Gulf waters.

The first article talks about a conference on the topic of iron fertilization of the ocean, with one of the topis being "Consequence: What will be the intended and unintended impacts?"

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