Ocean pipes have been proposed as a method for enhancing the growth of oceanic phytoplankton and increasing the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) by the ocean. By decreasing the amount (or residence time) of CO2 in the atmosphere, it is suggested that the pipes will decrease global warming.
In a recent publication, James Lovelock and Chris Rapley (2007) proposed that vertical pipes could be placed in the ocean and used to pump up nutrient-rich water from deeper in the ocean. Since phytoplankton growth is limited by the scarcity of nutrients in most parts of the ocean, supplying more nutrients in this way could stimulate phytoplankton growth.
As well as consuming nutrients, the growing phytoplankton will also take up corresponding amounts of carbon as they synthesise new cells. It is proposed that this consumption of DIC in the surface ocean will lead to a flux of CO2 into the ocean from the atmosphere, in order to replace the carbon lost to the new algal cells. Because a fraction of this new material will be transferred into the deep ocean, Lovelock and Rapley suggested that the pipes will accelerate or enhance ocean carbon storage and may help diminish climate change.
- J.E. Lovelock & C.G. Rapley (2007) Ocean pipes could help the Earth to cure itself. Nature 449, 403 (27 September 2007).
- J.G. Shepherd, D. Iglesias-Rodriguez & A. Yool (2007) Geo-engineering might cause, not cure, problems. Nature 449, 781 (18 October 2007).
- Biological Ocean Sequestration of CO2 Using Atmocean Upwelling, Atmocean Corporation
- Description of geoengineering, Wikipedia
- Biography of James Lovelock, Wikipedia
- Description of biogeochemistry, Wikipedia
- Description of primary production, Wikipedia
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