By Brent Fewell and Alex Carlin
May 10, 2022, featured in The Hill
The National Academies of Sciences released a report in December 2021 assessing potential benefits of ocean-based carbon dioxide removal strategies and calling for more research to learn how these methods could help mitigate the impacts of climate change. Among the strategies recommended is ocean iron seeding or ocean pasture restoration (OPR).
The idea behind OPR has been around for decades. In 1993, John Martin, a top American oceanographer, proposed the first of a dozen experiments, adding miniscule amounts of iron to patches of the South Pacific Ocean stimulating the production of algae and ocean biomass. Martin had shown that many parts of our world’s oceans are starving for iron, lack of which suppresses ocean photosynthesis and its biological pump.
Just like agricultural pastures, “ocean pastures” need an array of nutrients for health and productivity. Algae, phytoplankton, is the base of aquatic food webs. It’s the primary food source for zooplankton, such as copepods and krill, which in turn are the primary food for whales, fish and seabirds.
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