From: Discovery Channel, from Dani Cooper, ABC Science Online
Published October 10, 2009 07:49 AM

Australian Dust Storms Lead to Life Explosion

The red dust storm that dumped thousands of tons of soil across eastern Australia two weeks ago has caused an explosion in microscopic life in Sydney Harbor and beyond.

Researchers analyzing the impact say the finding validates plans to increase fish stocks to feed some of the world's poorest people using ocean fertilization.


Ian Jones, director of the Ocean Technology Group at University of Sydney, said enriching oceans with nitrogen will also aid the fight against climate change.

Jones' comments follow an analysis of the impact on the sea of the 23 September dust storm that swept across New South Wales and southeast Queensland.

At its peak the storm carried about 140,000 tons of soil an hour from central Australia.

An estimated 4000 tons of dust settled on Sydney, while Jones and his colleagues calculate about three million tons landed in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand.

Measurements taken at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science on the harbor's north shore show a tripling of microscopic plant life, or phytoplankton, at the Chowder Bay site and in samples taken 10 kilometers off shore.

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