Ocean fertilization for geoengineering: A review of effectiveness, environmental impacts and emerging governance

Williamson, Phillip, Wallace, Douglas W.R., Law, Cliff S., Boyd, Philip W., Collos, Yves, Croot, Peter, Denman, Ken, Riebesell, Ulf, Takeda, Shigenobu and Vivian, Chris (2012) Ocean fertilization for geoengineering: A review of effectiveness, environmental impacts and emerging governance Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 90 (6). pp. 475-488. DOI 10.1016/j.psep.2012.10.007.

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Abstract

Dangerous climate change is best avoided by drastically and rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, geoengineering options are receiving attention on the basis that additional approaches may also be necessary. Here we review the state of knowledge on large-scale ocean fertilization by adding iron or other nutrients, either from external sources or via enhanced ocean mixing. On the basis of small-scale field experiments carried out to date and associated modelling, the maximum benefits of ocean fertilization as a negative emissions technique are likely to be modest in relation to anthropogenic climate forcing. Furthermore, it would be extremely challenging to quantify with acceptable accuracy the carbon removed from circulation on a long term basis, and to adequately monitor unintended impacts over large space and time-scales. These and other technical issues are particularly problematic for the region with greatest theoretical potential for the application of ocean fertilization, the Southern Ocean. Arrangements for the international governance of further field-based research on ocean fertilization are currently being developed, primarily under the London Convention/London Protocol.
Highlights:
► Fertilization using iron can increase the uptake of CO2 across the sea surface. ► But most of this uptake is transient; long-term sequestration is difficult to assess. ► Unintended impacts of ocean fertilization may be far removed in space and time. ► For climate benefits, the Southern Ocean has most potential – also most problems. ► A regulatory framework for ocean fertilization research has been developed.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000312523800005
Keywords: Geoengineering; Negative emission technologies; ocean fertilization; Iron; Southern Ocean; Governance; SUB-ARCTIC PACIFIC; MESOSCALE IRON ENRICHMENT; ATMOSPHERIC CARBON-DIOXIDE; PERPETUAL SALT FOUNTAIN; SOUTHERN-OCEAN; EQUATORIAL PACIFIC; PHYTOPLANKTON BLOOM; DIATOM BLOOM; MICROBIAL RESPONSE; COMMUNITY RESPONSE
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BI Biological Oceanography
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.psep.2012.10.007
ISSN: 0957-5820
Projects: SOLAS, Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2012 08:56
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2016 12:46
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/19615

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