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Dr. Margaret Leinen Presents At AGU Ocean Sciences Meeting March 4th
4 March, 2008 by kevin

The 2008 AGU Ocean Sciences meeting is being held from March 2-7 in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Margaret Leinen will present on ocean fertilization.

The abstract for her talk is below:


The ocean science community, NGOs, government and the private sector are considering issues related to the potential of ocean fertilization to sequester CO2. Most issues are scientific and concern the efficacy or the side effects of ocean fertilization. Uncertainty about how commercial ocean fertilization would be conducted has led to additional concern over the types and standards of measurement, independent verification, measurement of side effects, the availability of data from commercial fertilization projects, deployment in sensitive marine areas, and other issues. Ocean fertilization is likely to take place on the high seas beyond national jurisdictions. There is as yet no clear international regulatory frameworks that apply directly to this activity. This implies that a voluntary code of conduct might be helpful in identifying the standards of responsible behavior. Other fields, like nanotechnology, have dealt with issues of ethics and responsibility in commercialization of scientific ideas. Drawing on such examples, we propose elements that could be included in a code of conduct for responsible ocean fertilization experiments and activities related to commercialization

Session #:200
Date: 03-04-2008
Time: 13:45

OIF At Carbon Forum America
4 March, 2008 by kevin

On February 26-27, Climos presented at the Carbon Forum America conference in San Francisco. This was the largest carbon market conference ever held in North America, with over 1,500 participants. On February 26th, Climos CEO Dan Whaley presented at a panel on high-tech innovation to combat climate change. On February 27th, Climos presented a Side Session on the science of ocean fertilization, with talks by Dr. Margaret Leinen and two independent scientists specializing in ocean fertilization, Dr. Kenneth Coale of Moss Landing Marine Labs, and Dr. Francisco Chavez of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

Dr. Kenneth Coale is the Director of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, the graduate program and research facilities serving seven California State University Campuses. He is a global marine biogeochemist with expertise in trace metals, carbon and nutrient cycling and radionuclides in the marine and lacustrine systems.  Dr. Coale was the Chief Scientist or Principal Investigator on all the US led Ocean Iron Fertilization expeditions.  

Ken worked extensively with John Martin, the California oceanographer who originally proposed the iron hypothesis which led to the iron fertilization experiments and who was the Director of Moss Landing before Ken.  John Martin passed away in 1993, several months before the first cruise was performed that proved his hypothesis.  

Dr. Francisco Chavez is a biological oceanographer with interests in how climate change and variability regulate ocean ecosystems on local and basic scales. He was born and raised in Peru where he attended Markham College in Lima.   He was one of the first members of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) twenty  years ago, and is a senior scientist there.   At MBARI he pioneered time series research and the development of new instruments and systems to make this type of research sustainable. Chavez has authored or co-authored over 100 peer reviewed papers with 10 in Nature and Science, and is past member of the NSF Geosciences Advisory Committee. He has been heavily involved in the development of the US Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and been on the Governing Boards of the Central and Northern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS), the Pacific Coastal Ocean Observing System (PaCOOS) and the Center for Integrated Marine Technologies (CIMT). Chavez is a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences; honored for distinguished research on the impact of climate variability on oceanic ecosystems and global carbon cycling. He was recently honored as Doctor Honoris Causa by the Universidad Pedro Ruiz Gallo in Peru in recognition of his distinguished scientific career and for contributing to elevate academic and cultural levels of university communities in particular and society in general.

Dr. Margaret Leinen Joins Board Of National Ecological Observatory Network
1 February, 2008 by dan

NEON Expands its Board of Directors

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) has announced seven additions to its Board of Directors. The NEON, Inc., board conducted an at-large election to fill two open seats, adding Margaret Leinen and David Douglas to the board; five of the new members—Jim Ehleringer, Nancy B. Grimm, Margaret Palmer, Debra Peters, and David S. White—were chosen by voting representatives of NEON founding and institutional member organizations. The representatives nominated 10 candidates from among their ranks to stand for election to five open board seats. This election brings the Board of Directors to its full complement of 15 members. Subsequent elections will be held annually in the fall to fill seats vacated by members whose terms have ended. The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a continental-scale research platform for discovering and understanding the impacts of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species on ecology. NEON will gather long-term data on ecological responses of the biosphere to changes in land use and climate, and on feedbacks with the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. NEON is a national observatory, not a collection of regional observatories. It will consist of distributed sensor networks and experiments, linked by advanced cyberinfrastructure to record and archive ecological data for at least 30 years. Using standardized protocols and an open data policy, NEON will gather essential data for developing the scientific understanding and theory required to manage the nation’s ecological challenges. Why NEON? The National Research Council has identified seven environmental Grand Challenges for the United States: biodiversity, biogeochemical cycles, climate change, hydroecology, infectious disease, invasive species, and land use. NEON addresses these challenges by gathering data focused on two overarching questions:
  • How are ecosystems across the United States affected by changes in climate, land use, and invasive species over time? How do they respond and at what rates?
  • How do biogeochemistry, biodiversity, hydroecology, and biotic structure and function interact with changes in climate, land use, and invasive species across the nation? How do these feedbacks vary with ecological context and scale over time?
NEON is a critical step toward forecasting how ecosystems and organisms interact with changes in climate and land use, and the impact of these changes on people and their enterprises. NEON data will be readily available to researchers, teachers and students, and all citizens with an interest in ecological science and environmental processes.
AGU Statement - Human Impacts On Climate
30 January, 2008 by kevin

The American Geophysical Union recently published a revised policy statement on the Human Impacts on Climate, which makes a causal link between climate change and human GHG emissions. The statement also discusses the range of expected impacts, such as, “Warming greater than 2°C above 19th century levels is projected to be disruptive, reducing global agricultural productivity, causing widespread loss of biodiversity, and—if sustained over centuries—melting much of the Greenland ice sheet with ensuing rise in sea level of several meters.”

The AGU Council adopts position statements that relate the understanding and application of the geophysical sciences to relevant public policy. In making such statements, the Council limits itself to positions that are within the range of available geophysical data or norms of legitimate scientific debate. The full statement is reproduced after the break.


Human Impacts on Climate

Adopted by Council December 2003
Revised and Reaffirmed December 2007

The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century. Global average surface temperatures increased on average by about 0.6°C over the period 1956–2006. As of 2006, eleven of the previous twelve years were warmer than any others since 1850. The observed rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice is expected to continue and lead to the disappearance of summertime ice within this century. Evidence from most oceans and all continents except Antarctica shows warming attributable to human activities. Recent changes in many physical and biological systems are linked with this regional climate change. A sustained research effort, involving many AGU members and summarized in the 2007 assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, continues to improve our scientific understanding of the climate.

During recent millennia of relatively stable climate, civilization became established and populations have grown rapidly. In the next 50 years, even the lower limit of impending climate change—an additional global mean warming of 1°C above the last decade—is far beyond the range of climate variability experienced during the past thousand years and poses global problems in planning for and adapting to it. Warming greater than 2°C above 19th century levels is projected to be disruptive, reducing global agricultural productivity, causing widespread loss of biodiversity, and—if sustained over centuries—melting much of the Greenland ice sheet with ensuing rise in sea level of several meters. If this 2°C warming is to be avoided, then our net annual emissions of CO2 must be reduced by more than 50 percent within this century. With such projections, there are many sources of scientific uncertainty, but none are known that could make the impact of climate change inconsequential. Given the uncertainty in climate projections, there can be surprises that may cause more dramatic disruptions than anticipated from the most probable model projections.

With climate change, as with ozone depletion, the human footprint on Earth is apparent. The cause of disruptive climate change, unlike ozone depletion, is tied to energy use and runs through modern society. Solutions will necessarily involve all aspects of society. Mitigation strategies and adaptation responses will call for collaborations across science, technology, industry, and government. Members of the AGU, as part of the scientific community, collectively have special responsibilities: to pursue research needed to understand it; to educate the public on the causes, risks, and hazards; and to communicate clearly and objectively with those who can implement policies to shape future climate.

The Rationale For Geoengineering Discussed
30 January, 2008 by kevin

The National Center for Policy Analysis presents a The National Center for Policy Analysis presents a policy discussion of geoengineering alternatives, including reforestation, atmospheric sun screens, and ocean iron fertilization. The premise is that CO2 emissions are still increasing exponentially, and that this doesn't appear likely to change anytime soon despite our best intentions. Therefore we should explore alternative mechanisms, such as geoengineering, although it must be done in a way to does not reduce the incentive cut emissions.

OIF And Climos Covered In Neal Dikeman's Cleantech Blog
21 January, 2008 by dan

Neal Dikeman at Jane Capital and several of his industry peers maintain one of the most followed online sources for timely news and perspective on all things cleantech. He was gracious enough recently to Neal Dikeman at Jane Capital and several of his industry peers maintain one of the most followed online sources for timely news and perspective on all things cleantech. He was gracious enough recently to

interview Dan Whaley about Climos and OIF.
Climos Comments On Recent Science Policy Forum
21 January, 2008 by dan

A Jan 11 Policy Forum in Science magazine, “Ocean Fertilization: Moving forward in a sea of uncertainty“, sounded a supportive, though cautious, note for further evaluation of OIF as a potential climate mitigation tool.

The article stresses the need to have better demonstration of sequestration and permanence in particular before carbon offsets are sold from these early demonstrations. We certainly agree that past demonstrations have not been done in a way consistent with rigorous market protocols, and have not sought independent verification of results.

Climos has provided a response that seeks to highlight under what conditions we feel cost recovery via the carbon market would be justified, and provides some analogies of other carbon projects which do so in support of ongoing research efforts.

Read it here: Are Carbon Offsets Appropriate for Ocean Iron Fertilization?

We also note that one of the authors of the Policy Forum piece, Dr. Anthony Michaels clarified his position in Science Daily.

Technical Commentary In Science On Cassar Paper
14 January, 2008 by kevin

A recent paper related to ocean fertilization is the 2007 Cassar et al. paper “The Southern Ocean Biological Response to Aeolian Iron Deposition”. This paper strongly suggests natural iron fertilization in the Southern Ocean causes sequestration of carbon dioxide, and that this may have been a major cause of the reduction of atmospheric CO2 during the ice ages. Their modeling shows that up to half of the total CO2 reduction from Interglacial to Glacial conditions could have been caused by this process, or 40ppm CO2. The implication is that a program of anthropogenic iron fertilization could have significant atmospheric carbon reduction benefit.

Now, Philip Boyd and Douglas Mackie have published a Technical Comment in Science that challenges the assertion of the Cassar et al. paper. Science has also published Cassar’s response.

The primary critique by Boyd and Mackie is that Cassar’s iron dissolution model does not apply to the Southern Ocean. Cassar responds that observed increases in airborne dust also strongly correlate to increases in biologic productivity, which suggests that questions over the iron dissolution model do not affect the fundamental conclusion of the original paper. Cassar also defends the iron dissolution model, as well as the other criticisms of Boyd and Mackie.

Here is the abstract of the original paper:

The Southern Ocean Biological Response to Aeolian Iron Deposition

Nicolas Cassar, Michael L. Bender, Bruce A. Barnett, Songmiao Fan, Walter J. Moxim, Hiram Levy II, Bronte Tilbrook

Biogeochemical rate processes in the Southern Ocean have an important impact on the global environment. Here, we summarize an extensive set of published and new data that establishes the pattern of gross primary production and net community production over large areas of the Southern Ocean. We compare these rates with model estimates of dissolved iron that is added to surface waters by aerosols. This comparison shows that net community production, which is comparable to export production, is proportional to modeled input of soluble iron in aerosols. Our results strengthen the evidence that the addition of aerosol iron fertilizes export production in the Southern Ocean. The data also show that aerosol iron input particularly enhances gross primary production over the large area of the Southern Ocean downwind of dry continental areas.

2007: Summary Of Ocean Fertilization Events
20 December, 2007 by kevin

Environmental Science & Technology has published a summary of major events regarding ocean fertilization during 2007. This article is factual and provides a mostly balanced perspective. Essentially more research is needed to understand potential benefits and impacts of large scale fertilization, and it is conceivable that commercial operations could provide funding to accelerate this research. There seems to be a concern that commercial funding might somehow contaminate the scientific process. Our opinion is that if appropriate controls, such as a defined methodology and third party verification are used on demonstrations led by respected members of the science community– and if these controls result in measurable sequestration for with permanence– then commercial sale is reasonable and can be used to help fund these larger scale demonstrations.For reference, the website for the recent WHOI OIF Symposium and the closing summary

Response To Recent Critique Of Ocean Fertilization
19 December, 2007 by kevin

Often a press release accompanies the release of a major scientific paper. A recent example is a press release by the University of Miami, which is based on a paper published in JGR by Lutz et al. Unfortunately, the findings of the paper itself contradict the claims of the press release.

Climos has written a response to the Press Release (download).


The abstract is posted below:


Seasonal rhythms of net primary production and particulate organic carbon flux to depth describe the efficiency of biological pump in the global ocean

Lutz, et al.Abstract: We investigate the functioning of the ocean’s biological pump by analyzing the vertical transfer efficiency of particulate organic carbon (POC). Data evaluated include globally distributed time series of sediment trap POC flux, and remotely sensed estimates of net primary production (NPP) and sea surface temperature (SST). Mathematical techniques are developed to compare these temporally discordant time series using NPP and POC flux climatologies. The seasonal variation of NPP is mapped and shows regional- and basin-scale biogeographic patterns reflecting solar, climatic, and oceanographic controls. Patterns of flux are similar, with more high-frequency variability and a subtropical-subpolar pattern of maximum flux delayed by about 5 days per degree latitude increase, coherent across multiple sediment trap time series. Seasonal production-to-flux analyses indicate during intervals of bloom production, the sinking fraction of NPP is typically half that of other seasons. This globally synchronous pattern may result from seasonally varying biodegradability or multiseasonal retention of POC. The relationship between NPP variability and flux variability reverses with latitude, and may reflect dominance by the large-amplitude seasonal NPP signal at higher latitudes. We construct algorithms describing labile and refractory flux components as a function of remotely sensed NPP rates, NPP variability, and SST, which predict POC flux with accuracies greater than equations typically employed by global climate models. Globally mapped predictions of POC export, flux to depth, and sedimentation are supplied. Results indicate improved ocean carbon cycle forecasts may be obtained by combining satellite-based observations and more mechanistic representations taking into account factors such as mineral ballasting and ecosystem structure.
Climos In Bali / OIF Covered In IETA 2007 GHG Market Report
5 December, 2007 by ben

An overview of ocean iron fertilization (OIF) was covered in the IETA 2007 Greenhouse Gas Market report, released during the recent Bali Conference of the Parties (COP 13). The overview, provided by Climos, covers technical aspects of OIF relating to standard industry GHG accounting protocols, environmental questions that have been raised and recent developments in the field. Climos also gave an overview of OIF in a side session co-sponsored by IETA during the Bali Conference. An overview of ocean iron fertilization (OIF) was covered in the IETA 2007 Greenhouse Gas Market report, released during the recent Bali Conference of the Parties (COP 13). The overview, provided by Climos, covers technical aspects of OIF relating to standard industry GHG accounting protocols, environmental questions that have been raised and recent developments in the field.

Climos also gave an overview of OIF in a side session co-sponsored by IETA during the Bali Conference.

The full IETA report can be downloaded here.
VIDEO> Dr. Leinen Speaks At MIT 2007 ESI/CGCS Symposium
9 October, 2007 by dan

See Dr. Margaret Leinen, Climos Chief Science Officer, lecturing at the recent MIT Earth System Initiative / Center for Global Change Science Symposium, October 9. See Dr. Margaret Leinen, Climos Chief Science Officer, lecturing at the recent MIT Earth System Initiative / Center for Global Change Science Symposium, October 9.

View the video here Read an overview of her lecture here On the symposium: One of the most baffling questions in science - where did life come from? - opened the first "Earth System Revolutions: Key Turning Points in the History of Our Planet," a symposium on Oct. 9 sponsored by MIT's Earth System Initiative and the Center for Global Change Science. Before the daylong event concluded, the audience was pondering an equally significant question: "Where is life on earth going?" These two questions bracketed a series of presentations that ranged from the primordial rise of oxygen to the impact of increased carbon dioxide and higher global temperatures to alternative energy sources to how humans could "geoengineer" the earth to mitigate climate change. A consistent thread tied together the various topics: conditions on earth led to life and life has changed the earth itself. Long before we evolved, the planet's biosphere was in a state of flux; humans have, perhaps, just speeded up the rate of change.

As Penny Chisholm, ESI Director, noted in her opening remarks: "You have to know where you have come from to understand where you might be headed."

Margaret followed Dr. Paul Falkowski and Ron Prinn.

About her lecture:

The pace of global carbon emissions may be such that humanity’s best efforts to stabilize them below current levels by 2050 won’t be enough to prevent a significant increase in Earth’s temperatures. Margaret Leinen, drawing on the U.N.’s recent climate reports, and the latest research from the field, shows the dire graph: a red line of CO2 emissions marching steadily upward, with accompanying graphics depicting hoped-for impacts of international efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas release.

The current global abatement “wedges” consist of technologies not yet developed or widely deployed, such as energy efficiencies, cellulosic biofuels, solar, wind, and nuclear. Leinen notes that most of the abatement in renewables “comes into play 20-30 years out,” and the “reality is there will be increases in CO2 in the atmosphere for the next 20-30 years while we try to address the problem.” Policy makers have not begun to grapple with the notion of delayed onset of emissions, says Leinen. Among scientists, there’s growing concern that “we’re going to be dealing with catch-up for a long enough time that we will suffer the consequences of emissions regardless of whether we put policies in place.” These projections suggest to some scientists that we must take more radical, immediate steps and geoengineer our way out of global warming. But other scientists, says Leinen, are loath to discuss these approaches, much less let them see the light of day. Carbon capture and sequestration, “viewed as necessary mechanisms for emissions reductions by some” says Leinen, and which have captured the interest of politicians, are viewed by another scientific camp “as soft engineering, or geoengineering light.” When a Nobel scientist wrote an article proposing the use of stratospheric aerosols to decrease sunlight hitting the earth, alarmed scientists lobbied prestigious journals not to publish it. Leinen’s own area of research, ocean iron fertilization, attempts to stimulate phytoplankton activity, which would help sop up atmospheric CO2. These approaches all face opposition because of their possible, negative impacts. But, says Leinen, these arguments “ignore the fact that we’re faced with a situation in which we must have an entire portfolio of activities” for reducing CO2. She worries that lack of discourse, or constant dispute will put scientists in a position “where policy makers want to move to (the new) techniques … and we won’t have studied them sufficiently to provide good scientific answers about whether they work.”
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