The next generation of iron fertilization experiments in the southern Ocean

Show simple item record Smetacek, V. Naqvi, S.W.A. 2010-01-27T12:29:13Z 2010-01-27T12:29:13Z 2010
dc.identifier.citation In "Geo-engineering climate change: Environmental necessity or Pandora's box?. eds. by: Launder, B.; Thompson, J.M.T.", 181-204p.
dc.identifier.other no
dc.description.abstract Of the various macro-engineering schemes proposed to mitigate global warming, ocean iron fertilization (OIF) is one that could be started at short notice on relevant scales. It is based on the reasoning that adding trace amounts of iron to iron-limited phytoplankton of the Southern Ocean will lead to blooms, mass sinking of organic matter and ultimately sequestration of significant amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the deep sea and sediments. This iron hypothesis, proposed by John Martin in 1990 (Martin 1990), has been tested by five mesoscale experiments that provided strong support for its first condition: stimulation of a diatom bloom accompanied by significant CO sub(2) drawdown. Nevertheless, a number of arguments pertaining to the fate of bloom biomass, the ratio of iron added to carbon sequestered and various side effects of fertilization, continue to cast doubt on its efficacy. The idea is also unpopular with some environmental groups because it is perceived as meddling with nature. However, the opposition to OIF is premature because none of the published experiments were specifically designed to test its second condition pertaining to the fate of iron-induced organic carbon production. Furthermore, the arguments on side effects are based on worst-case scenarios. These doubts, formulated as hypotheses, need to be tested in the next generation of OIF experiments. We argue that such experiments, if carried out at appropriate scales and localities, will not only show whether the technique is feasible, but will also lead to a better understanding of the structure and functioning of pelagic ecosystems in general and the krill-based Southern Ocean ecosystem, in particular. The outcomes of current models on the efficacy and side effects of OIF differ widely, so additional data from properly designed experiments are urgently needed for realistic parametrization. OEF is likely to boost zooplankton stocks, including krill, which could have a positive effect on recovery of the great whale populations. Negative effects of possible commercialization of OIF can be controlled by the establishment of an international body headed by scientists to supervise and monitor its implementation
dc.language.iso en
dc.publisher Cambridge University Press
dc.rights Copyright [2009] CUP. All efforts have been made to respect the copyright to the best of our knowledge. Inadvertent omissions, if brought to our notice, stand for correction and withdrawal of document from this repository.
dc.subject biogeochemical cycle
dc.subject iron compounds
dc.subject biological fertilization
dc.subject iron fertilization
dc.title The next generation of iron fertilization experiments in the southern Ocean
dc.type Book Chapter

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