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Some scientists claim that adding iron to oceans to increase the number of phytoplankton — single-celled organisms that convert carbon dioxide to organic carbon — could be an effective way to tackle global warming.

In this article, Quirin Schiermeier reports that some US organisations are already experimenting with iron fertilisation in the hope that one day companies and governments wishing to cut greenhouse-gas emissions will pay them to fertilise the oceans with iron.

But marine researchers argue that iron fertilisation could have unexpected side effects on marine life. And they warn that there is currently no legal framework to demand a full environmental-impact assessment before the technique is carried out.

Link to Nature feature article

Reference: Nature 421, 109 (2003)