Ocean Life shows Large Regional Variations
The article by Simon Redfern in the BBC news website is about how large regional variations play an important role in ensuring that the ocean life is well-taken care off. The article mostly focuses on the benefits of the marine plant plankton in the oceans. In order for plankton to grow well in the ocean bed, it needs a lot of iron. As a result of the constant changes in the climate, a larger variation of plankton and iron has been recognized by many marine experts. Phytoplankton is an extremely tiny marine plant that is microscopic in nature. They usually are able to intake large amounts of carbon dioxide obtained from the atmosphere. However, if their supply of iron is limited, photosynthesis will not take place as it should (Redfern 1).
It is estimated that there are up to ten thousand or more iron regional variations found in oceans and this is according to Nature Communication. The observation made is not constant as there will be an improvement in the ocean-climate models. When iron is available in low quantities, the photosynthetic life becomes limited and this affects almost a third of the oceans found on earth. Redfern believes that in the Southern Ocean area, the problem is quite acute and this has affected the life of the phytoplankton.
According to a lead author known as Dr Will Homoky, who has headed teams dealing in this issue at the Universities of South Carolina and South Hampton, research is key in solving the problem. In fact, he claimed that “Iron acts like a giant lever on marine life, storing carbon. It switches on growth on growth of microscopic marine plants, which extract carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and lock it away in the ocean” (Redfern 1).
The article also proves that scientists have conducted separate studies whereby they added some iron in the ocean. They focused their attention on areas that had limited amounts of iron. After conducting their studies they found out that numerous amounts of plankton grew after iron was put in the ocean. Some people believe that the study is an example of a geoengineering solution. It is meant to obtain atmospheric carbon, and later on, transfer it to the ocean. New research is now being conducted to find out about how oceans are fertilized by iron. Also, it will seek to find out what happens to phytoplankton since it is located on the bottom part of a food chain. It seems that Dr Homoky is on the right track in finding the required answer to solve the problem at hand.
He claims that “Satellite images of the oceans show less phytoplankton in the eastern South Atlantic off the African coast than in the western South Atlantic, off South America. Our Primary hypothesis is that there are more micronutrients like iron being mixed into the surface of the ocean from the South American continent than from South Africa”. The article concludes by stating that it is vital to know how the various elements come together as well as their impact on ocean life (Redfern 1).
The article has provided me with a lot of insight concerning the role of iron in promoting the growth of phytoplankton found in the ocean. I am now fully aware that living organisms need iron as it is a required nutrient for chlorophyll synthesis. Also, it is responsible for the reduction of gases such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide, as well as the transportation of photosynthetic electrons that are protein based. The reason as to why some parts of the ocean have low amounts of iron is because sea water has low solubility with regards to iron (Redfern 1).
When iron concentrations are low the primary production of the ecosystem structure, biomass accumulation is limited. In order for atmospheric carbon to enter deep oceans and stay there for long periods of time, certain processes have to occur. This is possible when the phytoplankton takes in the organic carbon obtained from carbon dioxide which occurs as a result of the oceanic’s primary production. The carbon cycle, which is global, is affected by the primary producers of iron.
Marine scientists should ensure that the oceans always have regular amounts and supply of iron. This can be possible if they enhance the process of iron synthesis through the promotion of large-scale fertilization of iron in regions that have oceans. It will thus be possible to enhance the iron storage capability of the ocean so that it can be able to store anthropogenic carbon dioxide.
However, not all regions that have oceans can benefit from the synthesis of iron and this phenomenon needs to be known (Redfern 1). This article has increased my knowledge concerning how iron assists in the regulation of primary productivity and this results in the sequestration of carbon. However, the question that I still have concerning this issue is how global warming is slowed down when the iron is added in the oceans. Hopefully, by doing more research it will be possible to find the answer.
Redfern, Simon. Key to ocean life shows large regional variations. BBC News Science & Environment, 19 July. 2013. Web. 23 Oct. 2013. < http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23379646>
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