Greening deserts are very bad for the fish in the oceans

Nextbigfuture interviewed Jason McNamee, former Director and Operations Officer of the Haida Salmon Restoration project and now Scientific Advisor to the World Aquarium and Conservation for the Oceans Foundation. Jason provided a lot of information and I will provide a series of articles related to his information. He educated me about processes in the deep ocean (100 miles from the coast) and how more still needs to be learned. Nextbigfuture covered how the 120 ton iron fertilization in 2012 increased salmon catches in 2013 and 2014.

Most people have been hearing warnings about desertification and how the deserts are increasing. Actually the deserts are becoming more green and are producing less dust. This is driving the steady reduction of iron into the oceans by about 1% per year. 42% more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means that plants in the desert need to breathe less and keep more water. Less dust from the desert means less iron into the ocean. Iron shortage in the ocean is the key factor that is reducing algae and plankton in the ocean. There is plenty of nitrogen and phosphorous. Less algae and plankton causes reduction in the amount and size of fish.

China has massive projects to spray the desert with bacteria and carpet bomb the desert with seedling plants.

Oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface

About 3% is icecap and ice sheets.

Fish supply the greatest percentage of the world’s protein consumed by humans.

Deserts cover about one fifth of the Earth’s land area and occur where rainfall is less than 50 cm/year.

Sahara desert supplying the Atlantic with dust and iron

Somewhere between 71 percent and 87 percent of the iron in Atlantic Ocean samples was delivered by dust storms from the Sahara desert. That is, life in the deep ocean depended on an annual delivery of fertilizer from one of the world’s emptiest and most parched regions.

In the Northern Pacific Ocean a primary source of dust and iron is from the Gobi desert.

Researchers found that wind-blown dust could transport microbes from West Africa all the way to the Caribbean. An estimated 50 million tons of Saharan dust is blown across the Atlantic to the Amazon every year.

The amount of iron in that ton of water would weigh about as much as a single eyelash. The key reason that everybody cares about iron is because it limits the growth of phytoplankton such as algae in maybe a fifth of the ocean.

Iron in some parts of the Ocean are at 2-4 parts per trillion when it should be at 10-15 parts per trillion for healthy amounts of plankton and algae.

NASA scientists used data from two satellites to study the level of chlorophyll, or green pigment in plants. When combined with other information provided by NOAA research vessels and buoys they found that about 70 percent of the observed drop in marine plant life productivity occurred in high latitudes

Ice-core records suggested that during
past glacial periods, naturally occurring iron fertilization had repeatedly
drawn as much as 60 billion tons of carbon out of the atmosphere. Laboratory experiments suggested that every ton of iron added to the ocean could remove 30,000 to 110,000 tons of carbon from the air. Early climate models hinted that intentional iron fertilization across the entire southern Ocean could erase 1 billion to 2 billion tons of carbon emissions each year—10 to 25 percent of the world’s annual total.

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