BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Iron Fertilization Experiment Leads to Massive Phytoplankton Bloom in the Southern Ocean
Published: April 17, 2002
Posted: April 26, 2002

Office of Science and the National Science Foundation jointly funded the Southern Ocean Iron Experiment (SOFeX), an oceanographic field experiment to determine the effect of the addition of iron on an area south of New Zealand. The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and its potential impact on climate has led marine scientists to study the role of the ocean in carbon sequestration. Microscopic marine plants called phytoplankton are responsible for photosynthetic carbon fixation in the ocean. Phytoplankton are naturally limited by the low levels of iron in the Southern Ocean which surrounds the continent of Antarctica. In January-February 2002, three research vessels fertilized two 15 X 15km study sites with dissolved iron and inert chemical tracers to label the "patches," (volumes) of ocean that were first fertilized. The iron produced a bright green phytoplankton bloom that could be seen from space by ocean color satellites. Over 100 SOFeX scientists are now engaged in analyzing samples collected from the fertilized areas of the ocean, as well as modeling, and synthesizing the results to determine the ultimate fate of the fixed carbon associated with the phytoplankton bloom. For iron fertilization to serve as a viable carbon sequestration option, the carbon associated with the bloom would need to sink to the deep ocean and be sequestered for hundreds to thousands of years.

Contact: Anna Palmisano, SC-74, 3-9963
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Carbon Cycle, Nutrient Cycling
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER
      (formerly SC-74 Environmental Sciences Division, OBER)

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco
Objectives

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)