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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999

FROM VOLUME 3, NUMBER 8, AUGUST 1990

NEWS...
IRON IN THE OCEANS


Item #d90aug61

The theory that biological activity in large areas of the Antarctic Ocean is limited by a lack of iron is the basis of a controversial proposal to fight greenhouse warming by fertilizing the ocean with iron. Recent research by John Martin of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California provides evidence of the importance of iron in regulating the CO2 uptake by marine phytoplankton. According to an extensive article on this proposal in Chemical and Engineering News (R. Baum, pp. 21-24, July 2, 1990), the National Research Council's Board on Biology hosted two workshops to explore the possibility of adding iron to the Antarctic Ocean to stimulate increased CO2 uptake by phytoplankton. One of the workshop summaries, while not endorsed by the Council, recommends much more research on the idea as well as an international iron enrichment experiment expected to cost $50-150 million. Environmental Defense Fund scientists have objected to the philosophy of this approach and the possible danger of massive tinkering with natural systems.

Martin's research is reported in Nature, pp. 156-158, May 10 (see PROF. PUBS./GEN. INTEREST, this Global Climate Change Digest issue--Aug. 1990), and an accompanying scientific commentary by A.G. Davies appears on pp. 114-115 of that Nature issue.

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