Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A ready-mix solution to global warming

A ready-mix solution to global warming

K. S. Jayaraman

The European Iron Fertilization Experiment (EIFEX) recently reported that dumping iron in the ocean stimulates algal blooms which capture atmospheric carbon-dioxide and deposit the carbon in deep waters when they die1. This has come as welcome news to Thothathri Sampath Kumar, Bangalore-based inventor and founder of 'NuAlgi Nanobiotech'. 

"The most encouraging fact is the confirmation that the algal bloom that capture the carbon are dominated by diatoms," he told Nature India.
A centric diatom (above) and a star diatom (below).

Diatoms are a group of algae that grow in any sun-lit, wet place on Earth. "Because of their abundance in marine plankton, diatoms probably account for as much as 20% of global photosynthetic fixation of carbon, making them more productive than all the world's tropical rainforests," says David Mann, Principal Research Scientist at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

The reason for Kumar's elation at the EIFEX's finding is understandable. Eight years ago he invented 'NuAlgi' which he claimed causes a copious bloom of diatoms in any type of water within 15 minutes of its addition. "NuAlgi (U.S.patent 7585898) could be an alternative to iron sulphate used in ocean fertilization experiments like EIFEX," says Kumar. Iron sulphate can cause bloom of any organism including harmful algae whereas NuAlgi triggers the growth of only diatoms and not any other algae, he says. "So there need not be any fear of producing toxic algal blooms or depletion of oxygen levels. On the contrary NuAlgi increases the level of dissolved Oxygen."
NuAlgi is a mix of all the micronutrients required by diatoms in the form of nano particles. Silica, which the diatoms require to build their outer shell, is the main constituent of NuAlgi while iron constitutes only 1%. "It is inexpensive and can be mass produced and is being used for the past seven years in many lakes and fish ponds in southern India to promote diatom blooms. It is also marketed in USA, China and Vietnam," says Mallimadugula Bhaskar, Kumar's collaborator.
NuAlgi collaborators Sampath Kumar (left) & M. Bhaskar.

While the oxygen released by the diatoms keeps the lakes clean, the diatoms are consumed by zooplanktons that in turn are food for fishes. Based on studies so far, Bhaskar estimates that when used for ocean fertilization one gram of iron in 100 grams of NuAlgi can capture at least 5000 grams of carbon which is 80% more than what was achieved with iron sulphate in EIFEX. 

Syed Naqvi, distinguished scientist at the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa is sceptical. "To say that NuAlgi will work in ocean because it does so in lakes is a misconception," he told Nature India.
However, impressed by the claims, David Karl, director of Hawaii University's Center for Microbial Oceanography Research and Education has taken some NuAlgi for testing. "Our scientists are currently at sea aboard Kilo Moana conducting experiments that are all relevant to the issues raised recently1 except that our field site is the low nutrient, low chlorophyll region of the North Pacific called the North Pacific Gyre," Karl said in an email interview.
"We are conducting a series of experiments with NuAlgi to determine whether or not it can be used to select for the growth of diatoms and which species are favoured. If our initial shipboard experiments are successful we will explore the use of NuAlgi to stimulate large-scale, export events by this mechanism perhaps including an open ocean trial of this hypothesis in summer 2013 or later."
Kumar says while carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change is one of the goals, he would first like to promote NuAlgi's use to revive fresh water eutrophic lakes and the 530 aquatic "dead zones" (lacking oxygen) worldwide. The project to revive the Baltic Sea Dead Zone — the world's largest dead zone — reportedly would require around 100 pumping stations to transport oxygen deep underwater. "NuAlgi may provide an alternative to this as well as to Western Australia's $3.4 million plan for setting up pumping systems to breathe life into the dying Swan River," he says.
  • References

    1. Smetacek, V.et al. Deep carbon export from a Southern Ocean iron-fertilized diatom bloom. Nature 487, 313-319 doi: 10.1038/nature11229 (2012)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

US Clean Water Act and water pollution


Clean Water Act’s Anti-Pollution Goals Prove Elusive

“In 1972 we were going to stop using our rivers as dumping grounds and we’re nowhere near there,” VandenHeuvel said. “State and federal regulators don’t even try to meet that goal any more and that’s a problem. “That’s a colossal failure.”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nature - EIFEX report

Discussion on Geoengineering google group

Bhaskar M V  
View profile  
 Hide options Jul 19, 1:13 pm
From: Bhaskar M V ...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 13:43:22 +0530
Local: Thurs, Jul 19 2012 1:13 pm
Subject: Re: [geo] Nature eifex report
You are right to a certain extent when you say -
"So, to some extent, iron fertilization concentrates productivity in space
and in time."
However the facts are as follows -
Human action has increased the amount of N and P in water.
The Nitrogen (and Phosphorus) cycles have been both speeded up and
increased in volume.
About 100 million tons of urea is manufactured and used as fertilizer in
agriculture, most of this is made by the Haber-Bosch process of capturing
Nitrogen from atmosphere and converting it into ammonia and then into urea.
Thus we are adding more N into water.
Phosphate fertilizer is made by mining rock phosphate and converting this
into phosphoric acid and then into super phosphate, etc.
Thus insoluble rock phosphate and N2 gas in atmosphere are being converted
into soluble N and P in water.
Another way to calculate the increase in N and P due to human action is to
compute the average food intake of people and the N and P content of this
and multiply with the population.
If we consume about 1 kg of food (wet weight) per day, this may contain say
50 mg of N and 10 mg of P. Multiply with the population of 1 billion 200
year ago, 7 billion today and projected population of 9 billion by 2050 and
you can get the total increase in N and P in food and sewage input into
lakes, rivers and oceans. I am not attempting to quantify the actual
numbers, since there are too many variables and averages, the concept is
adequate for the present.
What is the consequence of this?
1000s of eutrophic lakes and 500+ dead zones in the coastal waters.
This is the N and P that will be used up to sequester carbon when oceans
are fertilized with iron.
So there is no need to worry about depletion of macro nutrients in oceans.
:) Once we run out of oil, we can use the defunct Oil tankers to transport
sewage to Southern Ocean to provide the macro nutrients required. Prof John
Martin's recommended dose of half a tanker load of iron can be matched with
a 100 tanker loads of sewage. :)
I guess physicists always get lost in space and time.
On Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 1:04 PM, Ken Caldeira ...@carnegiescience.edu 

> wrote:
> Recall that this fertilization is using up macronutrients such as N and P
> that may have been used elsewhere at a later date.
> So, to some extent, iron fertilization concentrates productivity in space
> and in time.
> An important question is: how much of the P that was in the fertilized
> water would have been mixed downward as phosphate and how much of it would
> have been transported downward biologically at a later date somewhere else.
> It is only the fract of P that would not have been used biologically
> somewhere else at a later date that represents the increase in
> biological export.
> On top of this, there are additional questions of how the C/P ratio and
> remineralization depth of this carbon that would have been naturally
> exported differs from the C/P ratio and remineralization depth of the
> carbon that was exported in the experiment.
> So, two difficulties in analyzing these results are
> (1) Determining effects that are distal in space and time associated with
> the local (in space and time) consumption of macronutrients
> (1) establishing the counterfactual baseline that could be subtracted from
> the experimental case to determine the delta, taking into consideration
> effects that are distal in space and time (see previous point)
> On Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 10:59 PM, Rau, Greg ...@llnl.gov> wrote: 
>> So 1 tone of added Fe captures 2786 tones of C or 10,214 tones of CO2 (?)
>> Then the issue is how much of this stays in the ocean for how long.  I'll
>> have to read the fine print.
>> -Greg
>> From: Mick West ...@mickwest.com>
>> Reply-To: "m...@mickwest.com" ...@mickwest.com>
>> To: "andrew.lock...@gmail.com" ...@gmail.com>
>> Cc: geoengineering
>> Subject: Re: [geo] Nature eifex report 

>> It says 13,000 atoms, not tonnes:
>> "Each atom of added iron pulled at least 13,000 atoms of carbon out of
>> the atmosphere by encouraging algal growth which, through photosynthesis,
>> captures carbon."
>> On Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM, Andrew Lockley <
>> andrew.lock...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Personally I find the claims of 13000 tonnes to 1 atom of iron somewhat
>>> difficult to comprehend!
>>> A
>>> ----- 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Deep carbon export from a Southern Ocean iron-fertilized diatom bloom


Deep carbon export from a Southern Ocean iron-fertilized diatom bloom

(19 July 2012)
Published online


Fertilization of the ocean by adding iron compounds has induced diatom-dominated phytoplankton blooms accompanied by considerable carbon dioxide drawdown in the ocean surface layer. However, because the fate of bloom biomass could not be adequately resolved in these experiments, the timescales of carbon sequestration from the atmosphere are uncertain. Here we report the results of a five-week experiment carried out in the closed core of a vertically coherent, mesoscale eddy of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, during which we tracked sinking particles from the surface to the deep-sea floor. A large diatom bloom peaked in the fourth week after fertilization. This was followed by mass mortality of several diatom species that formed rapidly sinking, mucilaginous aggregates of entangled cells and chains. Taken together, multiple lines of evidence—although each with important uncertainties—lead us to conclude that at least half the bloom biomass sank far below a depth of 1,000 metres and that a substantial portion is likely to have reached the sea floor. Thus, iron-fertilized diatom blooms may sequester carbon for timescales of centuries in ocean bottom water and for longer in the sediments.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Current Status of Aquatic Weeds and their management in India


Current Status of Aquatic Weeds and their management in India

Jay G. Varshney, Sushilkumar and J S Mishra

National Science Centre for Weed Science, Jabalpur