Oceanography

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Oceanography

The environment is a complex system that comprises of many chemical cycles that interact with each other. Iron plays a very important role in the climatic system and has a direct effect on the carbon cycle. Recently, several experiments have been carried out, especially in the marine environment, to test whether this relationship can be applied to sink carbon in the ocean. A famous oceanographer once said that given a tanker full of iron he would bring the next ice age.                                                                               

  In the EIFEX experiment, done in 2004, in the Southern Ocean, the scientists were able to simulate growing of unicellular algae. The algae reached a maximum biomass of 286 milligrams per square meter (Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers 1). These diatoms need dissolved silicon to produce shells, and this showed that carbon content can be kept in the depth of the ocean for more than a century.

 Another LOHAFEX experiment showed the contrasting results. Growth of diatoms was restricted by different nutrient circumstances, especially the lack of dissolved silicon in the eddy (Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers 2). The bloom contained the other types of algae, which had no shell and were more easily eaten by zooplanktons.                                                                      

In view of these facts, the famous oceanographer was actually right. However, it is important to note that the conditions, especially availability of nutrients, under which this process is carried out, are very crucial in its outcome. Iron fertilization is, therefore, a practical solution that would help to address climatic change. There have been many discussions about the viability of this option, and I personally believe that it is a good option. This is because the process only simulates photosynthesis and has other benefits in the environment apart from reducing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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