Enriching the ocean

Published: Monday 15 May 2000

the Chilean government is considering a proposal made by an Australian oceanographer and a Japanese engineering company to fertilise the ocean with nitrogen. This would enhance the ocean's capacity to absorb carbon dioxide ( co 2 ), the greenhouse gas mainly responsible for global warming.

The idea of piping nitrogen into the ocean was patented by Ian Jones of the University of Sydney's Ocean Technology Group.

Fertilising the waters off the coast of Chile with nitrogen will encourage the growth of tiny organisms called phytoplankton. During photosynthesis, plankton use up co 2 dissolved in the water and the ocean draws out more co 2 from the atmosphere. So, an increased growth of plankton, will result in a subsequent reduction in atmospheric co 2 .

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