Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ocean fertilization experiment suspended

Nature News: The German science ministry has suspended a planned Indo–German ocean fertilization experiment in the Southern Ocean, and asked the German research institute behind it to commission an independent assessment of the study's environmental safety.

A 48-strong international team on board the Polarstern, an icebreaker operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), will reach its destination in the Scotia Sea by the end of this week. The scientists had planned to dump their cargo of 20 tonnes of iron sulphate over a 300-square-kilometre study area to induce an algal bloom. Stimulating algal growth with extra nutrients is believed to be one possible way of sequestering carbon dioxide from the air.

But environmental groups claim that the experiment, called LOHAFEX, would violate a moratorium on ocean fertilization that Germany brokered last May (see 'Ocean fertilization experiment draws fire'). The technique is controversial because its likely effects on marine ecosystems are uncertain. Studying these effects is the main rationale for LOHAFEX, the sixth iron-fertilization experiment in the Southern Ocean since 1993....

Iceberg with a resting group of Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae); the iceberg consists of blue ice, indicating that this is very old ice from deeper parts of the Antarctic ice sheet. Image was taken in the northern part of the Weddell Sea, Southern Ocean, Antarctica during expedition ANT-VIII/3 of the German research vessel POLARSTERN, shot by Hannes Grobe (author of other wonderful polar shots), AWI, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

No comments: