User:Hetmann/Biophysics 101 2007/Project Planning

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Revision as of 12:01, 17 March 2007

Article about Algae-Based Fuels published 05 February 2007 (summary forthcoming).

Recent BBC article, published 17 March 2007, on the legitimacy about climate change. Rebuttal of an earlier BBC article.

According to the Guardian, Lord Rees of Ludlow stated that, as of now, the IPCC stands as the world's leading authority on climate change.

  • Note: the story is actually about big oil providing incentives for scientists to criticize the IPCC's findings.

Recent MSNBC article, published 16 March 2007, which outlines 4 proposals for carbon sequestering.


  1. Geritol plan
    • This is the plan that Prof. Church mentioned in class.
    • Involves dumping iron to increase stocks of natural plankton and algae.
    • Planktos Inc. sent a ship out to the Pacific ocean to dump 50 tons of iron dust.
    • Mentioned in the 2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as one possible solution.
    • Problems:
      • Biomass increases, but CO2 sequestered may be limited.
      • Toxicity to organisms?
        • Counterargument: Planktos CEO Russ George claims that the amount of iron injected into the oceans is much less than the amount currently present.
      • Potentially affects sea temperature and local fauna & flora.
      • Political implications: International agreements regarding the oceans.
  2. Atmospheric Sulfur Injection
    • Proposed by Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen and by Edward Teller.
    • Plan consists of utilizing jet engines, cannons or balloons to infuse sulfur into the atmosphere.
    • Doing so decreases the temperature of the Earth.
    • Problems:
      • Sulfur is the main component of acid rain, which was fought against pretty rigorously a decade ago.
      • Temperature decreases are only temporary.
      • High cost.
      • Does nothing to alleviate the main problem: overabundance of CO2.
  3. Sun Shades
    • Brainchild of Roger Angel.
    • Proposal to place a cloud of spaceships between the Earth and the Sun to reflect heat.
    • Angel claims that this project is equivalent to reducing 2 percent of the sun's effect.
    • Problems:
      • High cost: The Earth is very big and a spaceship is very small - Estimated cost: $4 trillion over 30 years (1/3 the size of US national debt).
      • Technological limits.
      • Close Encounters of the Sixth Kind.
      • Does nothing to alleviate the main problem: overabundance of CO2 (again).
  4. Air Capture
    • Instruments coined as "artificial trees."
    • Use of air filters that sequesters CO2 using chemical absorbers.
    • Captured CO2 would be converted into a liquid or gas.
    • Problems
      • Expensive; less expensive technologies exist.
      • Pollution due to leakage.
      • Storage issues.

More information forthcoming! - Lots of articles to peruse and summarize below ...


Salps are tunicates, large planktonic organisms that have the fastest growth rates of any multicellular organism. Thalia democratica seems to be the most common of the Salps.

Salps are useful because the fecal pellets of the salps sink quickly, and it is proposed that the salps are responsible for much of the carbon sequestering that is currently occuring. Furthermore these organisms may assist in sequestering even more carbon dioxide produced from the burning of fossil fuels.

There are conflicting reports based on the fecal pellets of the salps:

  • One contention is that the fecal pellets contributes materials in the ocean, and provide food for bathypelagic and benthic organisms.
  • The more widespread notion is that the fecal pellets are not directly consumed, and are in essence a dead-end for carbon.
    • One support for this argument is the rate at which the pellet sink, which range from 320 to 2 238 meters/day.
    • Hypothesized that the fecal pellets disintegrate at the bottom of the ocean.

Possible Utilization

One group, Atmocean Inc., wants to utilize pipes that transport nutrient rich water from the deep ocean to the surface in order to increase growth in phytoplankton, the food source of the salps. In their presentation at the Electric Utility Environmental Conference, Atmocean claims that some biologists estimate a 5-fold increase in biomass due to the upwelling (but they don't list sources). Furthermore, the company believes that utilizing salps will potentially sequester 29% of current carbon emission (additionally proposing that this project may cost 1-1.6 trillion dollars over 10 years).

Other possible methods to utilize salps forthcoming (help from others in the class?).


Huskin et al.

Total salp abundance ranged from 4 to 4500 ind m−2, representing biomass values between 0.2 and 2750 mg C m−2

L. P. Madin1 et al.

Sinking velocities of the salps fecal pellets are very high ranged from 320 to 2 238 m d-1.

M. W. Silver1 and K. W. Bruland1

One hypothesis from this article is that salps fecal pellets disintegrate in deep water (in the portion of the ocean that is not exposed to sunlight).


Improving Reproduction [2]

Feeding process [3]

Additional research:

Seasonal abundance & distribution in S. China Sea [4]

Species composition and abundance distribution in the Nanwan Bay of Taiwan, China (this article has not been located) [5]

[6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

One way of achieving this goal: [15] Further reading: [16], [17], [18]

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