A new MIT study suggests that iron ferilization may not have a significant impact on phytoplankton growth, at least on a global scale.
The researchers studied the interactions between phytoplankton, iron, and other nutrients in the ocean that help phytoplankton grow. Their simulations suggest that on a global scale, marine life has tuned ocean chemistry through these interactions, evolving to maintain a level of ocean iron that supports a delicate balance of nutrients in various regions of the world.
“According to our framework, iron fertilization cannot have a significant overall effect on the amount of carbon in the ocean because the total amount of iron that microbes need is already just right,’’ says lead author Jonathan Lauderdale, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
The paper’s co-authors are Rogier Braakman, Gael Forget, Stephanie Dutkiewicz, and Mick Follows at MIT.