In the sixth episode of the Project Earth series, Hungry Ocean, airing right after Infinite Winds, the team is back to test a new theory about eliminating dead zones from our oceans.
The team plans to experiment with large pumps to basically filter the ocean thus allowing better oxygen retention. If the ocean can hold oxygen better, populations of fish and phytoplankton can rebound in these areas. If the Project Earth team can succeed in bringing life to dead zones, the zones will be able to absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide.
updates from the show:
I was very wrong with my initial thinking...
Oceans absorb almost half of our current co2 emissions. The cause of this is not actually the ocean it self, but the life in the ocean. Phytoplankton is a type of plant that thrives in nutrient rich oceans. All plants use basic nutrients and carbon dioxide to grow. When the phytoplankton die, their bodies fall to the ocean floor and the carbon that they used to grow stays in the bodies removing carbon from the atmosphere.
The identified problem shown by this episode is that there are many places in the ocean where currents of water do not circulate from the ocean depths to the surface. If water was brought up with pumps from the nutrient rich ocean bottom, the pumps can promote plankton growth.
The Project Earth team plans on using pumps attached to buoys. The buoys will float on the surface of the ocean and the water pumps will dangle 1000 feet below. Between the pump and the buoy is a long tarp in the shape of a straw.
The pump design is very simple, there are no mechanical moving parts. Only the natural movement of waves is needed to pump the water up. The pump is a one way valve, only allowing water to go in the bottom. When the wave is at its lowest point, water is gulped into the pump. When the wave begins to pull the buoy back up, the valve closes and water is pulled up. This happens with every wave creating a very effective pump.
The team's results were mixed. Unfortunately, both pumps broke after they were deployed. The failures were chalked up to poor engineering in the welds that held the tarps together.
The first pump failed completely, it did not pump at all. Fortunately, the second pump did indeed work for a little longer then a half of a day.
The second pump actually proved the concept worked. Their sensors showed cooler water flowed up through the tubes for the limited amount of time that they worked.
If they get their design fixed, they may actually have a very good idea here.
The only concerns with this experiment are unwanted, toxic algae blooms.
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