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Scientists chart iron cycle in ocean

lankton and other microorganisms to grab and use the iron.

The team's research grew partly from early studies indicating that fertilizing the oceans with iron could stimulate the growth of plant life that consume carbon dioxide, and thereby counteract global warming. In those studies, iron dropped from ships encouraged phytoplankton to bloom profusely, but only for a short time.

"Understanding the uptake of this scarce micronutrient will help provide more insight into how these microscopic plants and bacteria cope in these oceanic environments," said oceanographer Ken Bruland of the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Butler believes the findings on how the complex iron molecules are broken down by sunlight could also contribute to research on alternate drug delivery systems, possibly providing a nanoscale vessel that reacts upon exposure to light.


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Contact: Amber Jones
aljones@nsf.gov
703-292-80703
National Science Foundation
26-Sep-2001


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