Climate Science climbs back into the ivory tower

I read a report recently about a proposal to ‘Save the Baltic’. The idea, developed at Göteborgs universitet (Gothenburg University), uses wind powered pumps to oxygenate water at 120 m, thus reducing hypoxia (where a lack of oxygen in the water leads to ‘dead seas’). The oxygenated water can apparently bind 5 tons of phosphate per square kilometre. The press release notes that most focus has been placed on reducing the inefficient use of chemical fertilisers to improve the water quality in the Baltic.

Two small limitations in the proposed method spring to mind. Firstly: surely, tackling over- and inefficient fertilization is better than ameliorating the effects after the fact. Think of the energy and carbon saved by not producing and applying fertilizer needlessly.

Secondly: the application of the method is reported to have a cost of 2 Billion Kronor (319 Million Dollars). Note, no mention is made of maintenance costs.

Seriously, 2 Bn Kr. You are giving scientists a bad name! Why the hell are the funding councils paying to develop a method that will never be applied? They might be better giving physical oceanographers 10 M Kr to analyse the effect of the 100 pumps on the circulation of the Baltic (add a share for ornithologists concerned about birdlife). At the end of the day it would be better to invest in precision agriculture in the pan-Baltic zone than flights of fancy which will never be implemented.

A review of the science by an international group of scientists (Conley et al., 2009) concluded that “virtually all engineering methods proposed to date…seem unrealistic and/or not viable”. They also note that the effects of oxygenation are not fully understood (the method is likely to change the salinity of the sea and it’s stratification for instance).

You can find GUs press release here in Swedish:
http://www.science.gu.se/aktuellt/nyheter/Nyheter%20Detalj/syresattning-pa-120-meters-djup-kan-radda-ostersjon.cid987268
Here is a DN brief:
http://www.dn.se/nyheter/vetenskap/syrepump-kan-stoppa-algblomning

Conley et al.’s article is here:
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es8027633

[I should note one of the co-authors is a colleague. However, I started on this rant before reading Conley et al.]

Other wacky ideas to stop the effects of global warming include:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4533945.stm

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