Fertilizing the ocean with iron could help reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, according to newly released findingsof a research cruise. Why? In a word, diatoms.
A hunger for iron rules the microscopic sea life of the Southern Ocean surrounding ice-covered Antarctica. Cut off from most continental dirt and dust, the plankton, diatoms and other life that make up the broad bottom of the food chain there can't get enough iron to grow. And that's why some scientists think that artificially fertilizing such waters with the metal could promote blooms that suck CO2 out of the air. Then, when these microscopic creatures die, they would sink to the bottom of the ocean and take the carbon with them.