To cope with global warming, you need to fertilize the ocean

(ORDO NEWS) — In the fight against global warming, humanity is looking for new ways to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere.

This time, an international group of researchers proposed to “put into service” one of the smallest inhabitants of the Earth – oceanic phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton is the photosynthetic part of plankton, consisting of unicellular plants and cyanobacteria . Phytoplankton, freely moving in the upper layers of water, is the basis of the ocean food chain and one of the main sources of oxygen on our planet, surpassing even tropical forests in this respect.

The colossal productivity of phytoplankton has long attracted the attention of researchers planning to use it as a source of biofuel or food for the growing population of the Earth.

However, to cope with increasing global warming, an international team of researchers has proposed using phytoplankton to remove excess carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere.

Like all photosynthetic organisms, phytoplankton absorb carbon dioxide from the air to use it to synthesize nutrients.

However, the current amount of phytoplankton is not enough to delay global warming, so scientists have proposed to increase its number by fertilizing seawater with nanoparticles that will cause the growth of microscopic algae and bacteria to flourish.

The dispersible nanoparticles could be designed to best suit the conditions in the desired part of the ocean.

For example, their coating can be “adjusted” in such a way that the particles attach to plankton cells (this will allow them to remain in the surface layer of water), and the composition can be changed depending on the needs of the phytoplankton form that dominates these waters: for example, iron-containing fertilizer will be more useful for one cell, others – silicon-containing.

Absorbing carbon, phytoplankton will accumulate it in their bodies, and then, dying, these cells will sink to the seabed and carry away excess carbon with them. The same process is going on now, only much more slowly: all that scientists offer is to speed it up a little.

The key here is to maintain the right concentrations, at which the nanoparticles will stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, but will not become toxic to marine ecosystems – for example, due to excessive blooming of water, which can lead to the appearance of “dead zones” saturated with toxins and practically devoid of oxygen.


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