Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Hungry Crustaceans Eat Climate Change Experiment

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the circle-of-life dept.

Earth 291

Earlier this month, an expedition fertilized 300 square kilometers of the Atlantic Ocean with six metric tons of dissolved iron. This triggered a bloom of phytoplankton, which doubled their biomass within two weeks by taking in carbon dioxide from the seawater. The dead phytoplankton were then expected to sink to the ocean bed, dragging carbon along with them. Instead, the experiment turned into an example of how the food chain works, as the bloom was eaten by a swarm of hungry copepods. The huge swarm of copepods were in turn eaten by larger crustaceans called amphipods, which are often eaten by squid and whales. "I think we are seeing the last gasps of ocean iron fertilization as a carbon storage strategy," says Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University. While the experiment failed to show ocean fertilization as a viable carbon storage strategy, it has pushed the old "My dog ate my homework" excuse to an unprecedented level.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Well it sounds better than (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345409)

The copepods ate my project. Try that one on your thesis advisor....

Still and all, that's why they do experiments. Sometimes you learn something.

Re:Well it sounds better than (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345705)

Still and all, that's why they do experiments. Sometimes you learn something.

Absolutely. Sometimes you do learn something completely new. And that's great. But the true power of the experiment is in proving that some idea is wrong.

This experiment has proved that iron fertilization is not going to work as a carbon storage strategy. Personally, I think that more experiments like this will show that most if not all carbon storage strategies do not work. But that's just me talking. Again, you need a good, solid, experiment to show something either way. Rhetoric, statistics, or celebrity backing isn't going to prove anything. Only the experiment can be the final arbiter.

In recent years, I have seen field after field all but abandon the experiment as a scientific tool. Computer models, statistics and dubious mathematics became the tools of choice. It's nice to see one in the news again.

Re:Well it sounds better than (5, Insightful)

dexmachina (1341273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345939)

Thank you. I was just going to post something about how this shouldn't be tagged "fail". It isn't a "failed" experiment. It's an experiment that yielded a negative result, which can be just as useful, if less flashy and exciting, than a positive one.

Re:Well it sounds better than (1)

edward2020 (985450) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346907)

Null hypothesis FTW!

Re:Well it sounds better than (3, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346005)

This experiment has proved that iron fertilization is not going to work as a carbon storage strategy.

No, it prooved that by this method it wont work.

Altering the method might fix it. How should they do that? I'd start by studying data from Lake Eerie in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. The desired effect happened then - a lot of photosynthetic biomass that wasn't getting eaten nearly as fast as it was made.

However, is suspect that would only work in a shallow sea, and kill a lot of the life in that sea. Mostly, it would defeat the purpose of the seeding.

Re:Well it sounds better than (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346137)

All we need to do is keep pumping in the iron until the new biomass works its way up to animals that are large enough to shoot...

Re:Well it sounds better than (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346219)

Why do you want to shoot Hanz and Franz?

Re:Well it sounds better than (1)

The Yuckinator (898499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346433)

I wonder if Lake Erie's issue could have been caused by the appearance of Zebra Mussels? I think I remember that they were killing off a lot of the aquatic species living there.

Re:Well it sounds better than (1)

mikem170 (698970) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346675)

The zebra mussels (which hitched a ride with ship ballast from Europe) cleaned a lot of "crud" from the lake. They also ate a log of the algea or something, which did alter the fish population. But the fish population was altered by the pollution before the mussels came along.

Re:Well it sounds better than (2, Interesting)

squidfood (149212) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346519)

No, it prooved that by this method it wont work.

You know the funny thing is, IIRC 10 years ago "they" were proposing iron fertilization as a way to do exactly this: augment fish supply for harvesting (like we needed to pump up the system and stress everything out more). That didn't quite work either because I think they got the result they wanted here, sinking out. Basically, there's a lot of subtleties on when, where, what type of plankton are produced, how it's kept in surface layer, microplankton, jellyfish etc. The issue with large-scale manipulations is N is small and the screwups can stick.

Re:Well it sounds better than (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346615)

LAke Eerie worked in the 70s, 80s and 90s due to the Zebra Mussels invading and clearing out the water. This lead to sunlight reaching areas that were inaccessible before and growth of many things soared. That was only until the rest of the food chain also grew to catch-up.

Re:Well it sounds better than (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346921)

Actually, it wasn't that (at least, not according to several people at Stone Lab, where I was last summer). The problem was mostly caused by fertilizer runoff, which fed the algea/plankton.

If it were the zebra mussels, it would have balanced out in a couple of years, a decade at absolute most. It was only when they worked at handling fertilizer runoff that the problem started getting solved.

Re:Well it sounds better than (2, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346661)

Altering the method might fix it.

Simple! Spike the iron with a good pesticide. Problem solved!

(Yes, this was intended to be a joke.)

Re:Well it sounds better than (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346127)

This experiment didn't prove that iron fertilization is never going to work as a carbon storage strategy. It showed that, in this situation, the plan didn't work as they thought it would; that hardly means that the strategy itself is unsound. Perhaps the iron seeding needs to be done in areas with lower predator populations. Perhaps they can add something with the iron the drives the predators away. Perhaps... they need to do more research before they say what is and isn't possible.

Just because it didn't work this time doesn't mean the idea should be abandoned, as the researchers themselves seem to indicate. Besides, saying that a single experiment proves anything is at least as unscientific as using models and statistics to do research.

Re:Well it sounds better than (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346133)

"Personally, I think that more experiments like this will show that most if not all carbon storage strategies do not work."

So why aren't we, personally, planting 10 trees each year? Isn't that a carbon storage strategy, with free oxygen and built-in cooling?

Re:Well it sounds better than (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346745)

So why aren't we, personally, planting 10 trees each year? Isn't that a carbon storage strategy, with free oxygen and built-in cooling?

Mod parent up. This is something we should be doing...

Re:Well it sounds better than (5, Insightful)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346885)

It isn't clear to me why this is a failure, or a negative result if you prefer. Granted, the carbon didn't sink to the bottom of the ocean, but it was still removed from the water, which should allow the water to absorb additional CO2 from the air. It seems to me that, so long as the CO2 is pulled from the atmosphere, it's still an effective means of combating warming. Isn't one of the proposed remedies to increase the plant mass? Why isn't this just as effective as increased plants? What am I missing?

Why Can't This Work... (1, Interesting)

JordanL (886154) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346013)

...with algae?

I'm not a biologist or ecologist, but doesn't the ocean food chain start with algae? And don't algae produce oxygen from CO2 instead of sequestering it like phytoplankton?

Can't we fertilize parts of the ocean for plant growth instead?

Re:Why Can't This Work... (4, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346089)

Can't we fertilize parts of the ocean for plant growth instead?

Maybe a few well placed depth charges filled with Miracle-Gro

Re:Why Can't This Work... (2, Informative)

fiordhraoi (1097731) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346333)

...with algae? I'm not a biologist or ecologist, but doesn't the ocean food chain start with algae? And don't algae produce oxygen from CO2 instead of sequestering it like phytoplankton? Can't we fertilize parts of the ocean for plant growth instead?

Because of things like this, mostly: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Massive-Killer-Algae-Bloom-is-Making-Thousands-of-Victims-off-California-53468.shtml [softpedia.com]

Re:Why Can't This Work... (2, Interesting)

JordanL (886154) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346443)

Right... but algae is the basis to all deep ocean foodchains I thought, so there has to be some kind of acceptable algae...

Re:Why Can't This Work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346479)

Can't we fertilize parts of the ocean for plant growth instead?

I'm not a biologist either, but phytoplankton are plants. Otherwise where would that whole "absorbing CO2 from the environment and locking up the carbon" thing have come from?

And my recollection of high school biology class is that plankton form the base of the ocean food chains, which this experiment appears to have proven.

Re:Why Can't This Work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346929)

And my recollection of high school biology class is that plankton form the base of the ocean food chains, which this experiment appears to have proven.

Plankton cannot form the base of the ocean food chains until he is able to steal the Krabby Patty formula. A sponge, maybe.

Sorry about that. I have a 4 year old kid.

Re:Why Can't This Work... (3, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27347063)

Sorry about that. I'm a stoner and like to watch SpongeBob

Fixed that for you. We all know you couldn't have a kid -- that would require sex and you are posting on /.

Re:Why Can't This Work... (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346945)

microscopic algae is a type of phytoplankton...

Re:Well it sounds better than (1)

RallyNick (577728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346723)

Even better would be: "the copepods ate the student!" Speaking of which, human population almost doubled in the past 50 years, I'm starting to wonder... who's going to eat us? And how much longer do we have?

So... (2, Interesting)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345417)

What happened to the carbon?

Re:So... (2, Funny)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345495)

It's been converted into whale farts.

Re:So... (4, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345747)

Algae --> Copepod --> Amphipod --> Whale blubber/exhaled CO2

Note that the whale blubber is eventually converted into CO2 as well.

Even if the whale dies and sinks to the ocean floor, only a small portion of the 'sequestered' carbon would not make it back into the atmosphere eventually (plenty of deep-sea animals consume whale carcasses, all the while converting the 'sequestered' carbon into CO2.

Maybe a tiny bit would be converted to Ca2CO3 by molluscs, but AFAIK, no shell-forming molluscs feed on deep-sea whale carcasses.

Re:So... (3, Interesting)

32771 (906153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346425)

To continue this path, what happens to the dissolved CO2 at those depths:

"Another process, called "the biological pump," transfers CO2 from the ocean's surface to its depths. Warm waters at the surface can hold much less CO2 than can cold waters in the deep. "This is the 'soda bottle on a warm day' effect," says Agassiz professor of biological oceanography James McCarthy, "and is not unique to carbon dioxide; it applies to all gases dissolved in water. There is a higher capacity to hold a gas with a lower temperature than with a higher temperature." This means that when deep ocean waters rise to the surface as part of normal ocean-circulation patterns, the water heats up and actually releases CO2."

from here,
http://harvardmagazine.com/2002/11/the-ocean-carbon-cycle.html [harvardmagazine.com]

So this is a temporary storage solution and the fertilizer might speed up the process but the CO2 is at best dissolved it seems.

I guess CO2 storage could be really helped by dumping CaOH or something like that into the ocean just where this should come from I wonder.

Re:So... (2, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346545)

Best argument against "Save the whales" I heard to date.

Who knew Captain Ahab was trying to save the planet all along?

Re:So... (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345913)

Good question. It would seem that some of it was captured. I don't see how this means the experiment failed.

Re:So... (1)

Maint_Pgmr_3 (769003) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346015)

It will be turned into acid rain, which will erode the mountains, which will wash into the oceans, removing all the CO2 from the atmosphere and create another SnowBall Earth.
So buy you carbon credits while they are available.

Why is this a problem? (3, Interesting)

wiredog (43288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345423)

The carbon is still being sequestered, just not where they expected it.

Re:Why is this a problem? (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345627)

The carbon is still being sequestered, just not where they expected it.

It depends, do squid (and whatever eats squid) and whales sink to the bottom when the die? The idea is to completely remove some carbon from the normal carbon cycle, I guess to compensate for the carbon we dig out of the ground and add to the cycle.

Re:Why is this a problem? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345699)

We could catch the whales, render their blubber into oil and store it underground or something... um, I guess it would be easier not to burn oil in the first place.

Re:Why is this a problem? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345773)

The carbon is still being sequestered, just not where they expected it.

It depends, do squid (and whatever eats squid) and whales sink to the bottom when the die?

Yes, and their bodies are eaten as they lie on the bottom. It's the ciiiiIIIIIIRCle of liiIIIIIfe!

Re:Why is this a problem? (2, Interesting)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345883)

do squid (and whatever eats squid) and whales sink to the bottom when the die?

Yes. Yes they do. And the carcasses are eaten by bottom-feeding animals, which generally remain at the sea floor. It's a different path through the food chain than they were expecting, but the carbon ends up on the seabed in the end.

Re:Why is this a problem? (2, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346933)

If we assume that an animal stores in its body all of the CO2 from plants it eats throughout its lifetime, then I suppose so...

Re:Why is this a problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346231)

The carbon is still being sequestered, just not where they expected it.

do squid (and whatever eats squid) and whales sink to the bottom when the die?

The answer is the carbon goes into the Japanese and Greeks.

Re:Why is this a problem? (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346375)

Sometimes. It's not at all uncommon for dead whales (not sure about squid) to float on the surface for some time as a result of decomposition gases inside their bodies. In these cases they can be eaten by sharks/orcas or drift onto beaches.

Re:Why is this a problem? (5, Informative)

whyrat (936411) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345833)

From TFA: The tiny crustaceans graze on phytoplankton, which keeps the carbon in the food chain and prevents it from being stored in the ocean sink. The goal was to get the carbon out of the food chain and dormant on the ocean floor.

Re:Why is this a problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346135)

Would u like to eat your next lobster or tuna fish impregnated with un-healthy doses of iron?

Re:Why is this a problem? (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346285)

No, not really. 'Sequester' means to pass along to a trusted entity for safekeeping. In this case, the trusted entity was the bottom of the deep ocean.

Since the copepods do not keep the carbon, but rather pass it along to the next step of the lifecycle, by definition the carbon is not being sequestered.

Re:Why is this a problem? (1)

ThaddyJoe (668327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27347111)

Isn't the carbon stored as marine animal tissue? Isn't carbon fixed by trees into cellulose the same type of storage?

So? (3, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345425)

Why are well-fed whales a bad thing?

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345771)

Because they attract whalers.

Re:So? (1)

berend botje (1401731) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346153)

They leave a fatty aftertaste...

Re:So? (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346747)

meet management.

I don't think I need to explain that picture.

Because well fed whales get horny (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346867)

Did you really think those two subs colided? Of course not. They were raped!

Obligatory Simpsons Joke (5, Funny)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345441)

Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.

Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?

Skinner: No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.

Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?

Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.

Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!

Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

Re:Obligatory Simpsons Joke (0, Redundant)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346429)

I know it's a joke, but wouldn't it be easier to simply wait for the winter to kill the lizards off ? They're the ones that can't internally regulate their body temperature, after all.

Re:Obligatory Simpsons Joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346535)

woosh

Re:Obligatory Simpsons Joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346839)

Maybe they can hibernate in the mud like frogs? I don't know anything about biology though. :)

Re:Obligatory Simpsons Joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346959)

Yuo: "Why oh why won't anybody come over and watch The Simpsons with me?"

Re:Obligatory Simpsons Joke (3, Funny)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 5 years ago | (#27347039)

"Look, I can explain," he said.

Lord Vetinari lifted an eyebrow with the care of one who, having found a piece of caterpillar in his salad, raises the rest of the lettuce.

"Pray do," he said, leaning back.

"We got a bit carried away," said Moist. "We were a bit too creative in our thinking. We encouraged mongooses to breed in the posting boxes to keep down the snakes . . ."

Lord Vetinari said nothing.

"Er . . . which, admittedly, we introduced into the letter boxes to reduce the numbers of toads . . ."

Lord Vetinari repeated himself.

"Er . . . which, it's true, staff put in the posting boxes to keep down the snails . . . "

Lord Vetinari remained unvocal.

"Er . . . These, I must in fairness point out, got into the boxes of their own accord, in order to eat the glue on the stamps," said Moist, aware that he was beginning to burble.

I'll be (2, Funny)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345459)

Whale i'll be damned!

Re:I'll be (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345709)

You're supposed to say it with an Irish accent: Whale oil be damned!

Zoidberg! (0, Offtopic)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345467)

Now Zoidberg is a homeowner!

Horray! (5, Funny)

SteveHeadroom (13143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345475)

Horray for Zoidberg!

Infection (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345477)

So basically, the experiment was infected. Maybe they should try seeding smaller areas, lessening the chance of an infection spreading over the whole seeding zone.

Re:Infection (1)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345655)

Not really, phytoplankton, copepods and amphipods are ubiquitous. There is no massive ocean region free of them.

There is no way of preventing them from multiplying in favorable nutrient conditions, although you may be able to get another organism to out compete some of them.

Re:Infection (2, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346685)

The experiment was a success. It proved that their theory was invalid within the constraints and parameters that were defined.

Had the experiment failed to show a definitive determination as to the validity of the theory or if some external force altered the parameters beyond the theory's limits, then you could say that the experiment failed.

Just because the results of the experiment were not what you expected, does not mean that the experiment failed.

Think of it as the difference between searching for a theory that is back up by data, and searching for data that backs up your theory. One is scientific, the other is pharmaceutical.

-Rick

Re:Infection (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346823)

"infected"? I can't for the life of me understand what you mean by that.

The experiment showed that when you provide phytoplankton (which is generally comprised of unicellular algae) with a lot of a nutrient that encourages it to grow & reproduce, you end up with a tremendous bloom of algae. Then organisms that feed on algae have a plentiful source of nutrient, which means their population explodes, and so on up the food chain, until some new equilibrium is reached.

Short of introducing some artificial control on phytoplankton predators (probably unwise), I would expect this to happen anywhere they attempted it. Phytoplankton is pretty ubiquitous.

The Pro-Government Solution Bias At Work Again (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345523)

I don't see why the conversion of carbon into biomass in any way negates their stated goals.

Once again, the Global Warming Chicken Little lobby attempts to turn aside any alternate solution that doesn't involve handing government control of our economy NOW NOW NOW.

Re:The Pro-Government Solution Bias At Work Again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345629)

Mod AC up.

Re:The Pro-Government Solution Bias At Work Again (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345653)

I don't see why the conversion of carbon into biomass in any way negates their stated goals.

This triggered a bloom of phytoplankton, which doubled their biomass within two weeks by taking in carbon dioxide from the seawater. The dead phytoplankton were then expected to sink to the ocean bed, dragging carbon along with them.

Re:The Pro-Government Solution Bias At Work Again (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346503)

So right you are ! If there's one thing we've all learned from the financial crisis is that industry is fully capable of regulating itself without any government oversight.

Not a failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345743)

It seems all we have to do is wait for some whales to come along and eat the amphipods, then kill off a few of the whales and sink them to the bottom of the ocean: Carbon sequestered.

Re:Not a failure (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346051)

Let them die of natural causes.

Nature has spoken... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345759)

and clearly it WANTS global warming.

Oh thats simple.. (2, Funny)

UPZ (947916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345847)

Just throw in a few tons of insecticides in there and that should take care of it...

Nobody saw this coming? (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345853)

It's hard to believe nobody saw this coming. Hey, let's create a massive amount of food in the ocean and let it sink to the bottom. Did they think the ocean dwellers were just going to let it be for the sake of science or something?

I don't know, it sounds kinda stupid to me.

"Mom, I want to see how dog food reacts to the sun, so I'm going to fill Sparky's bowl and let it sit for a week."

Next day. "Mom, Sparky ate the dog food." Duh? :)

Re:Nobody saw this coming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345925)

agreed. throw in a heap of iron, wait for the bloom and then drop a metric shitload of DDT. that'll show em!

Re:Nobody saw this coming? (2, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346405)

Uh, that's the whole point of experimenting. It's easy to say in hindsight that this was the result. But what if the result had gone the other way? Would you still be saying that it obviously would have worked?

Re:Nobody saw this coming? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346639)

I agree that it's easy to say now, hindsight is 20/20, etc.

But it still seems like a significant, hm, waste. 300 square kilometers (Google tells me that 300 (square kilometers) = 115.830648 square miles) isn't exactly a small area. Maybe it had to be that big for some reason, I don't know.

Yes, I know it's an experiment, but experiments try to leave as little to chance as possible. Or should, anyways... try to hold all other variables constant and all that. Why couldn't they do this in a controlled environment instead of the Atlantic ocean?

Re:Nobody saw this coming? (2, Insightful)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346927)

If they'd done it in a closed pool, they wouldn't have got the same result as they did.

The test was to see if this is a viable method of carbon capture. Due to the little sea creatures, turns out that it isn't viable. That's an important result that they're very glad they've found out now, so they can adjust their research accordingly.

Thus the experiment was a success.

Re:Nobody saw this coming? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346969)

"It seems that if it is possible to fertilise enough ocean to make a difference to climate, we would need to turn vast ocean ecosystems into giant plankton farms," says Caldeira.

That explains it more to me (from the article).

Didn't realize they wanted to see if they could do it in the ocean on a widespread scale. :)

Re:Nobody saw this coming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27347021)

Because it works in theory, the hard part is real world implementation in *uncontrolled* environments.

Hungry Hungry Crustaceans (1)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345905)

Hm... While it might very well make a decent sequel, they'll need to talk to marketing to come up with a better name. I mean, Hungry Hungry Hippos had the entire alliteration thing going for it, but I can't see anyone buying something with as unwieldy of a name as Hungry Hungry Crustaceans.

Not only that, but the fact that goal is to eat climate change experiments won't fly in the current eco-conscious culture.

Food... The Horror... The Horror... (0, Flamebait)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345911)

It's now going on 10 years that I've been saying the folks criticizing iron fertilization on the grounds that it might not sequester carbon are trying to destroy the Amazon rainforest, Subsaharan Africa's wild species and coastal ecosystems so that they can malnurish most of humanity -- they should therefore be taken out to the parking-lot and summarily shot. Well, ok, maybe that's a little harsh, but how about beating them to a bloody pulp or whatever it takes to STOP THEM?

Re:Food... The Horror... The Horror... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346057)

What the FUCK are you talking about? These results show that "the folks criticizing iron fertilization on the grounds that it might not sequester carbon" are probably right.

Authentic Frontier gibberish (0, Troll)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346437)

What in blue blazes are you talking about?

      Brett

Re:Authentic Frontier gibberish (0, Troll)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346523)

Food... You know... the stuff that comes from the grocery store rather than those frontier hicks who can't form a coherent sentence. Just stay where you are...

Maybe not good for sequestration.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345951)

But isn't there a threat that fish populations are on steady decline?

Wouldn't the fertilization technology be better applied to oceanic fisheries instead?

For countries that consume large quantities of shellfish and crustaceans, like Japan and China, this kind of technology could drastically improve the economy.

Additionally, while it may not take carbon out of the total environment, as long as it is in plankton and crabs, it is NOT in the atmosphere, and thus, NOT contributing to global warming. This increases the earth's tolerance to the higher carbon content.

Greens get outsmarted by things without a brain (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27345989)

We will be looking back on how many nuke power plants we could have built with all the trillions that was pissed away on green pipedreams.

Not for carbon sequestration, but how about food? (4, Interesting)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27345995)

From the results of the experiment, apparently it won't work as a means to sequester carbon.

However, what if we can use this to improve the productivity of the ocean in general? Might the increased amount of biomass serve to improve fisheries? I.e., if there's more food all the way up the food chain, can't we eat more fish? It's a hungry planet and many fisheries have been depleted....

--PeterM

Re:Not for carbon sequestration, but how about foo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346399)

That's fine in theory, but there are too many pollutants to eat, at least wild, fish on a regular basis. In a controlled setting fish farms work pretty much anywhere if you have the water supply, in fact I'd prefer if they were only allowed on land. Lets give the ocean a break for a while, we've reaped its loins for far too long. Plus all the dumping...

Re:Not for carbon sequestration, but how about foo (2, Funny)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346493)

Perhaps. I suspect it'll just make a new sub-species of fat, lazy whales.

$#@&*!$ lazy-ass whales.

Do you think they'll be tasty? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346573)

I hear they taste like fishy beef.

Re:Not for carbon sequestration, but how about foo (5, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346987)

Perhaps. I suspect it'll just make a new sub-species of fat, lazy whales.

Americans? *rimshot*

Re:Not for carbon sequestration, but how about foo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346587)

Yeah, since we thought we'd have enough of this stuff to stop climate change, let's use it for creating seafood. Then when the end comes, we can all wave and say "So long, and thanks for all the fish."

Looks more complex to me (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346467)

First, it looks to me like the experiment broke for the same reason that earlier experiments had. Once you seed sea water with enough iron, the growing algae eventually consumes available silica. The algae observed in the experiment were less silica-rich (ie, they weren't diatoms) and hence easier to feed upon. Having to add silica makes the logistics much harder, since you need considerable quantities of silica. Second, heavy grazing doesn't imply that the researchers failed in their goal of creating a carbon sink. Not all of the food chain would have been eaten by higher up. Probably a lot of those algae and animals ended up on the sea bed floor. The problem though is that you can't then estimate well how much carbon was deposited on the ocean floor. In other words, the experiment might have worked anyway to lock away a considerable amount of CO2, but as is, it can't be used as a consistent carbon sink in a human carbon management program.

Third, grazing is going to be a fundamental problem unless somehow plankton is seperated from the algae. I bet there is plankton that will eat diatoms too. The grazer problem will affect any program that attempts to carbon sink via ocean grown algae blooms.

Typo? (1)

CharlotteShma (1516417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346557)

From the original story:

"Instead they experiment turned into an example of how the food chain works as the bloom was eaten by a swarm of hungry copepods."

Shouldn't they be the?

Just sayin..

-charlotte

The publicity about it sucks.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346601)

See my video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8Rhu5llh1k&feature=channel_page

OTOH... (1)

ghostis (165022) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346719)

This may be a good method to help parts of the ocean where the food chain is in trouble.

IF THEY ONLY HAD A BRAIN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346787)

Geeks think they know everything and if they are not stopped, they will cause devastating damage one day with another idiotic scheme designed to solve a non existent problem. Today is Carbon Sequestration tomorrow who knows.

I have to repeat what an earlier poster said, they, the bumbling fools who conducted this experiment and used the ocean as its vitctim, were outsmarted by a creature without a brain, thank f'ing god.

Of course all you dopes will speculate on this as you pretend to have authority but when it comes down to it, you really dont know shit!

Round of applause (3, Funny)

sorak (246725) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346993)

I can't believe it! A slashdot headline that mentioned global warming, but does not include a global warming debate in the comments. How do I submit this as a story?

If only it were simpler... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27346999)

If only there were self-replicating containers that could extract carbon from the atmosphere and store it as a solid...

Their motive was to make money, or reduce CO2? (0, Troll)

cagrin (146191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27347009)

Some scientists still think the whole CO2 causes Global Warming thing is a bunch of crap anyway, likely invented to conceive of a new way to tax the populace and give an excuse to forcibly reduce the population of the world. See lecture [youtube.com] by Professor Bob Carter on Global Warming.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?