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Algal blooms

We are continually reminded by climate change scientists, that drastic measures are needed to help prevent environmental disaster.

We need to seriously look at removing CO₂ from the atmosphere to slow the change, here is one concept that may be viable.

Increased CO₂ in the atmosphere has meant more typhoons / hurricanes. It has been found typhoons stir up the deep oceans thereby causing upwelling which brings more nutrients to the surface. These nutrients cause algal blooms. Tiny animals called zooplankton then feed on the algae and many of them use CO₂ to grow a tiny shell, once they die they sink to the abyss and take the extra Carbon with them, thereby reducing atmospheric CO₂.

Additionally a team of UK scientists aboard the Royal Navy’s HMS Endurance have found that melting icebergs off the coast of Antarctica are releasing millions of tiny particles of iron into the southern Ocean which is also causing huge ‘blooms’ of algae with similar results as above.

Scientists have known for some time that artificially created algal blooms could be used to absorb greenhouse gases, but the technique has been banned for fear of causing unforeseen side effects in fragile ecosystems. However, based on the UK team’s evidence that the process has been occurring naturally for millions of years, and on a wide scale, the UN has given the green light to investigate if this could be a viable help to reduce the effect of climate change.

The team will seek to create a massive algae bloom by releasing several tons of iron sulphate into the sea off the coast of the British island of South Georgia. If successful, the technique could be rolled out across vast swathes of the Great Southern Ocean.

It would be a huge irony if melting icebergs, until now a powerful symbol of the damage caused by global warming, reveal a process that may enable scientists to take steps that might drastically reduce, and potentially even halt, the threat of environmental catastrophe.

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