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Iron Enhancement of Marine Phytoplankton Abstract As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase efforts have been made to help restore these levels to their natural state An intriguing hypothesis has been put forward in an attempt to reduce these levels By seeding regions of the oceans known as high-nitrate low chlorophyll areas with iron it is believed that phytoplankton populations will grow This in turn through the process of photosynthesis will lower atmospheric carbon dioxide levels Two major experiments that have been conducted in the last decade examine the reality of such an undertaking The potential for this method to be used on a global scale appear to be limited at best Ever since the Industrial Revolution began in the late 1700s the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere has increased at dramatic rate The majority of CO2 released into the atmosphere comes from the burning of fossil fuels and from land use such as deforestation biomass burning and agricultural expansion which limits the environments ability to recycle CO2 emissions Walker and Kasting 1992 The concentration of CO2 is expected to double by the middle of the next century causing global warming to increase by 15C to 45C Rising global temperatures are expected to raise sea levels as well as change precipitation levels and other local climate conditions Changing regional climate could alter forests crop yields and water supplies Rao and Chakravarty 1992 Also numerous animal and plant species could be in danger of extinction due to an altering of their ecosystems such as an expansion of deserts into existing range lands Knox 1999 Due to the wide ranging effects of increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere many scientists are trying to find solutions that will slow the rate of increasing CO2 levels One solution that has been suggested is the iron enhancement of productivity in marine phytoplankton as a potential method for the reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide The rich
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