The oceans sequester carbon from the atmosphere partly as a result of biological productivity. Over much of the ocean surface, this productivity is limited by essential nutrients and we discuss whether it is likely that sequestration can be enhanced by supplying limiting nutrients. Various methods of supply have been suggested and we discuss the efficacy of each and the potential side effects that may develop as a result. Our conclusion is that these methods have the potential to enhance sequestration but that the current level of knowledge from the observations and modelling carried out to date does not provide a sound foundation on which to make clear predictions or recommendations. For ocean fertilization to become a viable option to sequester CO2, we need more extensive and targeted fieldwork and better mathematical models of ocean biogeochemical processes. Models are needed both to interpret field observations and to make reliable predictions about the side effects of large-scale fertilization. They would also be an essential tool with which to verify that sequestration has effectively taken place. There is considerable urgency to address climate change mitigation and this demands that new fieldwork plans are developed rapidly. In contrast to previous experiments, these must focus on the specific objective which is to assess the possibilities of CO2 sequestration through fertilization. © 2008 The Royal Society.
Lampitt, R. S., Achterberg, E. P., Anderson, T. R., Hughes, J. A., Iglesias-Rodriguez, M. D., Kelly-Gerreyn, B. A., … Yool, A. (2008). Ocean fertilization: A potential means of geoengineering? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 366(1882), 3919–3945. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2008.0139