The Geritol Solution

Written by Deborah Allen. August, 1993; Revised August, 1995.

(page 1)

John H. Martin, the director of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, thinks the potential problem of global warming could be addressed by dumping iron into the ocean waters off Antarctica. He and his coworkers have demonstrated that the amount of chlorophyll found in ocean water samples collected (in 30 L botttles) from the Gulf of Alaska can be increased up to nine-fold by the addition of iron.

When they repeated this fertilization experiment with samples collected from a few hundred miles off the Antarctic coast, he and his colleagues found that for every unit of iron added to antarctic sea water, the organic carbon content increased by a factor of 10,000.

Martin's degree of confidence in his proposal is reflected in a remark he (half-jokingly) made during a lecture at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute: "Give me half a tanker of iron and I'll give you an Ice Age."


Go to Page 2 (and sketch). Go to Page 3, Go to Instructor's Objectives.

Last updated Nov. 22, 1996.
Copyright Deborah Allen, Univ. of Delaware, 1996.