15 Mar 2010:
Nutrients From Deep-Sea Vents
a Key Factor in Carbon Storage, Study Says
Hot, nutrient-rich water seeping from a network of deep-sea volcanoes provides a consistent source of iron for the phytoplankton that soaks up carbon dioxide
, playing a key role in limiting climate change, according to a new study by French and Australian scientists. The world’s oceans capture about 25 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, scientists say. Among the largest “carbon sinks” is the Southern Ocean between Antarctica and Australia. Underpinning that cycle is the microscopic plant phytoplankton, which absorbs the carbon dioxide at the ocean surface and then eventually carries it to the ocean floor. While it is well known that iron carried in dust or in coastal sediments can trigger phytoplankton blooms, the extent and consistency of deep-sea vents as a source of nutrients was not as well understood, according to the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience
. That source, researchers say, produces between 5 and 15 percent of the total carbon storage in the entire Southern Ocean, and as much as 30 percent in some parts.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.