Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
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Marine Chemistry


During this unit, students will use real- and near-real-time data to explore the significance of oceanic iron fertilization, including the potential positive and negative effects of activating the biological pump.

Activities | Back to top

The Biological Pump

This Web slide show will take students step-by-step through the processes that are involved the biological pump.  Students will be encouraged to think about how the pump will react to various changes in the environment, and how availability of nutrients such as nitrate and iron affect the amount of carbon dioxide that is eventually sequestered in the deep oceans.

Biological Pump Slideshow

560 KB

The SOFeX Expedition

This activity will help students understand the rationale, questions, research, technology and people involved in the Southern Ocean Iron Experiment (SOFeX) Cruise in 2002.

Graphing Iron Data

This activity will help students understand how scientists assess the impacts of iron on ecosystem processes.  The amount of iron present effects the amount of phytoplankton growing in an area of the ocean.  These producers are extremely small—only one cell in size, so it would not be possible to count them all.  Instead, scientists measure the amount of chlorophyll in the water.  Since chlorophyll is made by living plant cells, more chlorophyll indicates more phytoplankton present.  In this activity, students will look at a spreadsheet of data collected from buoys in Monterey Bay.  These buoys collect information on many different chemicals present in the water; the focus of this lesson is the iron and chlorophyll levels.  Students will graph the data collected in one year to see if there is a connection between these two factors.

Iron fertilization in the news | Back to top

ScienceNews: (03/15/10)
Iron fertilization in ocean nourishes toxic algae

ScienceDaily: (01/29/09)
Iron Fertilization To Capture Carbon Dioxide Dealt A Blow: Plankton Stores Much Less Carbon Dioxide Than Estimated

Oceanus: (11/13/07)
Fertilizing the Ocean with Iron
(First article in a six-part series)

Science Daily: (06/10/07)
Iron Fertilization Of Oceans: A Real Option For Carbon Dioxide Reduction?

USA Today: (04/02/07)
Project aims to ‘seed’ oceans to heal them

Science Daily: (03/01/07)
Iron in Northwest Rivers Fuels Phytoplankton, Fish Populations

Web Resources | Back to top

MBARI—Southern Ocean Iron Experiment (SOFeX) Cruise
This cruise report page hosts information about the purpose, equipment and people involved in the SOFeX project, designed to investigate the effects of iron fertilization on the productivity of the Southern Ocean.

US Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (USJGOFS)
This site provides information on research and publications of this component of an international effort to further global climate research.  Includes a data section with Live Access Server to allow viewers to select data for investigation and analysis.  Their brochure also includes an excellent diagram and explanation of the biological pump.

Southern Ocean Iron RElease Experiment (SOIREE)
Another cruise report from an earlier attempt at oceanic iron fertilization, this site includes information on rationale, procedures and results of the experiments, as well as participating scientists and institutions.

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Last updated: Jul. 03, 2012