To Fight Climate Change, Dump Iron in Water?

Old theory gains traction following experiments
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Suggested by Guvner
Posted Jul 19, 2012 4:44 PM CDT
To Fight Climate Change, Dump Iron in Water?
Iron can help algae grow.   (Shutterstock)

Algae growing around Antarctica is short on iron. For decades, scientists have theorized that iron dumped in the oceans there could help fertilize the algae—and that algae could in turn absorb carbon dioxide, thus battling global warming. While tests have shown that iron can, in fact, fuel algae blooms, only now have scientists discovered what happens next—and the results look promising, NPR reports.

Researchers fertilized the algae and waited weeks to see where it would end up. As hoped, after the algae died, it sank to the ocean floor. The study, which was conducted eight years ago but whose results have only just emerged, suggests that algae can carry carbon dioxide to the bottom of the sea, apparently safely. But some experts are skeptical. "At best, this technology appears to be speculative," says an environmental advocate. "At worst, it could turn out to be a disastrous experiment that could have major impacts on the ocean ecosystems." (More environment stories.)

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