Montreal -- Canada defines itself as a nation that stretches from coast to coast to coast. But can we keep those coasts healthy in the face of climate change? Yves Glinas, associate professor in Concordia's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has found the solution in a surprising element: iron.
In a study published in Nature, Glinas along with Concordia PhD candidate Karine Lalonde and graduate Alexandre Ouellet, as well as McGill colleague Alfonso Mucci studies the chemical makeup of sediment samples from around the world ocean to show how iron oxides remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.
"People around the planet are fighting to reduce the amount of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere in the hopes of reducing climate change. But when it comes to getting rid of the CO2 that's already there, nature herself plays an important role," Glinas explains. CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and safely trapped on the ocean floor through a natural reaction that fixes the molecule to organic carbon on the surface of large bodies of water.
How exactly does that fixation process work? "For well over a decade, the scientific community has held onto the hypothesis that tiny clay minerals were responsible for preserving that specific fraction of organic carbon once it had sunk to the seabed," explains Mucci, whose related research was picked as one of the top 10 Scientific Discoveries of the year by Qubec Science. Through careful analysis of sediments from all over the world, Glinas and his team found that iron oxides were in fact responsible for trapping one fifth of all the organic carbon deposited on the ocean floor.
With this new knowledge comes increased concern: iron oxides are turning into what might be termed endangered molecules. As their name suggests, iron oxides can only form in the presence of oxygen, meaning that a well-oxygenated coastal ecosystem is necessary for the iron oxides to do their work in helping to
|Contact: Clea Desjardins|