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Of iron and algae



Hi all:

Think you have green algae problems?  Read this (excerpted from
"E, The Environmental Magazine" (March/April 1997, pp 17-18):

"...Researchers from Moss Landing Marine Laboratory in California,
led by Dr. Kenneth Coale, recently dropped 990 pounds of iron
filings into a 28-square-mile area of ocean near the Galapagos
Islands in the Pacific Ocean.  The objective was to see if adding iron
to this "oceanic graveyard" (so described because of low oxygen
content and negligible plant life) would increase phytoplankton
growth.  The results in the 28-square-mile area, supporters say, was
astounding:  within several weeks, there was a 30 to 40-fold increase
in phytoplankton growth, affecting over 200 square miles.

"...The late Moss landing oceanographer John Martin had theorized
that a deficiency of iron in seawater was prohibiting plants from
taking up two important nutrients they need to grow: nitrogen and
phosphorous.  'Seeding' certain oceanic waters which had little plant
growth would correct the problem, he hypothesized, after
investigating the mysterious barenness of Antarctic and subarctic
waters..."

"...The biology board of the National Research Council estimates
that iron fertilization, because of its resultant phytoplankton growth,
could even help decrease global warming, removing up to two billion
tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere each year -- 1.5
times the United States' annual CO2 emissions.  Overall, the Moss
Landing experiment produced over 2,000 times the iron's weight in
plant growth, decreasing CO2 levels in the water by 15 percent
(2,500 tons)."

Regards,

Jonathan

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