Monday, March 29, 2010
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories may have come up with a lifesaver: Two decades ago, then-MLML director John Martin helped hatch the idea of dumping iron in the ocean to promote plankton blooms, which could soak up atmospheric carbon and stave off the worst of global warming.
The concept, ocean iron fertilization (also known as iron seeding), has been gaining traction even as scientists - including MLML experts - advise caution. At least two companies are exploring iron seeding as a way to profit from the carbon credit market.
But while early experiments showed potential for significant carbon sequestration, a recent field test underscored a dangerous side effect: the production of domoic acid, a nerve toxin for seabirds, marine mammals and shellfish that people eat.
"It is an indication that we are not masters of nature when it comes to large-scale ecological manipulations," research lead Charles Trick told The San Francisco Chronicle.