Sea Food Map for All the Ocean’s Fish and Mammals
Plants and bugs are food for land animals and birds. Out in the world’s oceans, plankton are the common food for everything up the ocean food chain.
A map of the world’s ocean plankton is now available, and Wired is calling for
volunteers to design a more attractive and appealing map. In addition to providing food for the food chain, phytoplankton release 50% of the world’s oxygen.
Plankton researchers tend to focus on particular plankton, so this effort combined research across oceans, seasons, and water depth.
This livescience article “Plankton Pumping Iron May Impact Climage” notes the role dust-borne iron has in promoting ocean plankton populations. Dry weather causes more iron-rich dust to be blown up and out to the oceans, where lack of iron restricts phytoplankton growth. As plankton populations bloom, they absorb more carbon dioxide and release more oxygen.
the new study supports the Iron Hypothesis, an idea developed over 20 years ago by marine scientist John Martin. Martin argued that when the Earth goes through dry, dusty climate periods, more iron reaches the ocean in the form of windblown dust, which acts like a fertilizer for phytoplankton.
Testing the iron-fertilization process as a carbon-dioxide sequestration strategy has led to considerable debate over tampering with the world’s climate. Mother Jones has this 2008 article “Deep Ecology: An Open-Ocean Experiment.” The idea was to drop iron into the sea and measure phytoplankton increases (and from that estimate CO2 absorbed). However…
…environmental groups went ballistic. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wildlife Fund denounced the California firm. Friends of the Earth launched an email campaign. Greenpeace petitioned the UN’s International Maritime Organization to address the activity under its 1996 ocean-dumping accord. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a maverick operation that harasses whaling vessels, even threatened to intercept Planktos’ ship. In the end, the company had to cancel its expedition due to a lack of cash and outdated research gear.
Maybe similar experiments will be secretly funded by big oil and coal companies. If the iron fertilization and carbon sequestration works to counter rising CO2 in the atmosphere, that takes pressure off for CO2 emission restrictions and taxes. And if the experiments work too well and bring on another ice age, well, that would vastly increase demand for oil, natural gas and coal.