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What are artificial upwellings?Artificial upwellings are engineered structures that mimic natural upwellings - a process by which deep ocean water is brought to the surface, enriching shallow ocean layers with water that is cooler and richer in nutrients.
What are the benefits of artificial upwellings?Natural upwellings cool surface waters and increase primary productivity with nutrient rich water. They provide 50% of global marine productivity! By simulating this natural phenomenon, it is possible to restore coral reefs, enhance fisheries, mitigate climate change, and provide storm protection for coastal communities. The mechanism by which this can occur is primarily via surface cooling and stimulating primary productivity. Surface cooling: Mitigates impacts of climate change Enhancing heat uptake by the ocean Enhancing dimethylsulfide production (cooling gas) Restoring natural hydrological patterns that have been disrupted by climate change Can interrupt the movement of major storms Can protect vulnerable shallow systems like coral reefs from warming events Increased primary productivity: Increase fisheries productivity - natural and aquaculture Likely to enhance coral reef resilience CO2 sequestration by primary producers Flushing with 'clean' water: Potentially reducing disease on coral reefs and other benthic communities Potentially reducing disease in aquaculture and marine permaculture settings An artificial upwelling can produce the same effects, with additional control over hydrological parameters like flow rate and volume, and timing.
What are the risks of artificial upwellings?Any tool with the power to make a large, positive impact inherently carries comparably large risks. It is imperative that we understand and investigate potential impacts of deploying artificial upwellings. Ecological impacts Disrupting food web structure and dynamics Harming organismal physiology Oceanographic impacts Disrupting hydrological systems, which can affect food webs, weather and climate Disrupting biogeochemical dynamics
What is the history of research into artificial upwellings?The concept of artificial upwellings was popularized by James Lovelock in a correspondence to Nature in 2007, but experiments date back to at least the 1970s with a mariculture project in St. Croix that used an artificial upwelling to enhance shellfish growth. A variety of projects investigated the use of artificial upwellings for power generation, fishery enhancement, and climate change mitigation throughout the 2010's and more recently, the GEOMAR project Ocean artUp was awarded 2.5m in 2017 to investigate the safety and feasibility of artificial upwellings for fisheries enhancement and climate change mitigation. A sea trial led by a team from Zhejiang University is currently underway in China, with an emphasis on engineering approaches and carbon dioxide removal. Considerable research effort has gone into the biogeochemistry and productivity of artificial upwellings, but more research is needed to understand their effects on individuals, assemblages, communities, and ecosystems of organisms.
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