Scientists in Europe: be afraid, but there may be hope from friendly phytoplankton

The European Geophysical Union is meeting. Not that you could tell from any American mainstream media coverage.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

The European Geophysical Union is meeting. Not that you could tell from any American mainstream media coverage. Bet we couldn't find a single news reader at ABC or Fox who could even decipher EGU (European Geophysical Union). But the EGU does exist in that rarified world beyond New York and Washington and the Pennsylvania primary. And scientists and engineers out there are thinking about climate change, and what can be done about it.

First Warning: Rising Sea Levels Worse Than IPCC Says

That's the prediction from a team of Europpean scientists. Ice sheets in Greenland and Antrarctic are melting faster than expected and that means oceans should rise faster as well. Perhaps as much as five feet by the end of this century. That means the end of some island nations in the Pacific, horrendous flooding for lowlands like Bengladesh and a real estate crisis for condos in places like Miami and what remains of New Oreleans.

Second Warning: Our Ignorance Could Fill Oceans

We don't know enough about how the oceans work as carbon sinks. And we need to understand this as the planet warms. Over the past 2 decades there's evidence that both the North Atlantic and South Atlantic were lessening in carbon dioxide absorption. Now research indicates the trend may have reversed itself in the North Atlantic. So little we understand.... Some Tech to the Rescue?

For the first time the EGU had a session of applied engineering. The topic was custom-built weather and climate management. Among the proposals: hurricane abatement and sea level control.

One intriguing proposal from an American scientist: sow sulphur in the ocean to stop ice sheet melting. How does this work? Well, increased CO2 levels are already interfering with the health and functioning of oceanic phytoplankton. That happens because the CO2 lowers the ocean's pH to less than optimum levels for the tiny organisms. The American researchers demonstrated that sulphur added to ocean water reverses the pH problem and in turn makes the phytoplankton healthier and more able to deal with CO2. The conclusion: "These processes may help contribute to the homeostasis of the planet." If you dig that kind of talk, here's the research abstract.

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