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Undersea Volcanic Activity Buffers Climate Change March 19, 2010
Hydrothermal vent spewing iron-rich material.
When phytoplankton die or are eaten, they carry large amounts of carbon that they absorb to the bottom of the ocean, locking up the carbon for centuries or even much longer.
Undersea volcanic activity appears to provide a dampening influence on global warming as the seabed eruptions create nutrient-rich water that feeds carbon dioxide-eating plants.

Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, Australian and French scientists show that hydrothermal vents around underwater volcanoes in the Southern Ocean spew iron.

After billowing to near the surface, the mineral allows single-cell organisms called phytoplankton to bloom, soaking up the greenhouse gas in the process.

The report says that the waters between Australia and Antarctica are among the largest ocean “carbon sinks” in the world due to the plankton’s consumption of CO2.

The study says that the amount of iron generated by the submerged volcanoes has remained nearly constant over the ages.

The world’s oceans are believed to remove about 20 to 25 percent of the atmospheric carbon dioxide currently produced by human activities.

Photo: NOAA