If we ever ‘greened the Sahara’ would the Atlantic die?

Something I’ve wondered since reading “Weather Makers” by Tim Flannery.

Plant Strife: Satellite measurements show declining phytoplankton in ocean currents

A storm in Africa’s Sahara Desert brought a sandy fertilizer to the Atlantic Ocean on April 8, triggering plankton blooms that show up as blue-green swirls in this photo from the European Space Agency’s Envisat satellite. The storm’s plume covered parts of Ireland [top left], England [top right], France [below England] and the Iberian Peninsula [bottom right].

Saharan sand carries nitrogen, phosphorus and iron—delicious and essential treats for phytoplankton, which are microscopic ocean plants. The sand frequently hitches a ride on atmospheric convection currents and travels as far south as the tropical Atlantic and west to the Caribbean Sea.

Saharan dust in the ocean is a “mixed blessing,” according to NASA’s Earth Observatory. The plankton that feed on the dust’s minerals can bloom significantly, providing food for other ocean creatures, but an overgrown bloom can consume much of the dissolved oxygen in an area and create an anoxic dead zone.

via Saharan dust feeds Atlantic Ocean plankton: Scientific American Gallery.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Ocean. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s