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Outback Dust Feeds Massive Plankton Bloom October 16, 2009
Satellite Image
Dust that obscured Sydney's Harbor Bridge on September 23 also fell into the harbor and adjacent Pacific, feeding a massive bloom of tiny marine plants.
Last month’s massive Outback sandstorm that obscured the skyline of Sydney and other communities has caused an explosion of microscopic ocean life.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reports that the thousands of tons of red dust dumped in Sydney Harbor and beyond contained nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphate that have fed huge blooms of phytoplankton.

Such fertilizing elements had been scarce in what’s been called Australia’s “desert” ocean waters.

The tiny plants are now providing food for larger ocean creatures.

The plankton has also captured about 8 million tons of carbon dioxide so far, which will be deposited on the ocean floor once the creatures die and sink.

That’s the equivalent to a month of emissions from a typical coal-fired power plant, according to Ian Jones, director of the Ocean Technology Group at University of Sydney.

Photo: Mark Khademi