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Dr. Dick van der Wateren

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CO2, Phytoplankton, Phytoplankton bloom, Volcanic ash, Iron, Ocean, Pacific

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Phytoplankton bloom after volcanic eruptions shows ocean seeding won't remove much atmospheric CO2

17.10.2010, Age: 2928 days

Study of oceanic phytoplankton bloom after volcanic ash rain suggests that seeding oceans with iron will only have minor effect on CO2 absorption.

In 2008, a team, led by oceanographer Roberta Hamme, University of Victoria, Canada, happened to be in the right place when a large phytoplankton bloom in the North pacific was triggered by an ash cloud from one of the Aleutian volcanoes. Yet, although large amounts of iron were absorbed by the phytoplanton, the net effect on carbon dioxide absorption was minimal. Seeding the oceans with iron, therefore, will not be the solution to reverse the carbon dioxide increase, the team concludes in a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters.

Hamme, R. C., et al. (2010), Volcanic ash fuels anomalous plankton bloom in subarctic northeast Pacific, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L19604, doi:10.1029/2010GL044629.


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