Although it may seem like science fiction, a report suggests geoengineering Earth’s oceans in order to reduce carbon dioxide levels and combat climate change.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine ( NASEM ), has published a 300-page document that outlines six approaches to removing carbon dioxide from our oceans.

These ideas involve adding fertilizer to stimulate the growth of small photosynthetic plants, and passing electricity through water to raise alkalinity.

Scientists involved in the project recognize that they are not ready for execution and provide a roadmap to officials to get them on the right track and out of a warmer world.

This 10-year plan, according to the report, requires $1.1 million in funding for each method of research.

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The 300-page document from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine ( NASEM) provides six carbon dioxide removal (CDR) approaches, all of which require humans to alter our oceans

A 300-page document by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine NASEM ( NASEM ), outlines six approaches to carbon dioxide removal. All of these require that humans alter the oceans.

Scott Doney is the chair of the Committee and a professor of environmental sciences at Virginia. He also wrote the statement that ocean carbon dioxide removal strategies were being considered by entrepreneurs, scientists and non-governmental organisations as possible climate responses strategies.

‘Right now, society as a whole and policy makers do not have sufficient information to understand the trade-offs and impacts of climate changes.

“If we are to make informed decisions regarding the future of the oceans and climate, then we must do some critical research over the next ten years.”

Report highlights the 2019 National Academics report which estimated that approximately 10 gigatons (or approximately 10 billion tons) of carbon dioxide should be removed each year by 2050 in order to achieve climate goals.

The report says this is a 10-year plan that requires $1.1 billion in funds to properly research each approach

This 10-year plan, according to the report, requires $1.1 Billion in funding for each method of research.

To limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit is not possible by reducing emissions.

Six carbon dioxide removal approaches

1. Artificial Upwelling & Downwelling

2. Cultivation Seaweed

3. Ecosystem Recovery

4. Ocean Alkalinity Enhanced

5. Nutrient Fertilization

6. Electrochemical Processes

NASEM compiled a lengthy report explaining why the US should implement ocean-based carbon-removal policies. 

The sixth approach, Nutrient fertilization, involves the addition of nutrients to the ocean’s surface, such as nitrogen or phosphorus, to enhance photosynthesis by phytoplankton.

It would lead to an increase in CO2 and transfer gas into the deep sea, where it could stay for up to a century.

According to the report, $290 million is needed to fund research priorities. This includes field experiments as well as tracking carbon sequestered.

Artificial Upwelling and Downwelling is another option. This requires $25 million in order to conduct controlled trials on the ocean and research technological readiness.

“Upwelling brings cooler, more nutritious, and CO2-rich water to the surface. This stimulates the growth phytoplankton which absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide. In the press release, the team explained that Downwelling transports surface water and carbon into the deep sea.

“The report states that there is little confidence in these methods’ efficacy or scalability, as well as the fact they pose high risks to the environment and are costly and present challenges when it comes to carbon accounting. 

Seaweed Cultivation and Ecosystem Recovery are also listed, with the former creating massive seaweed farms to push carbon deep into the ocean – a process that needs $130 million to research.

Ecosystem Recovery refers to the restoration of ecosystems as well the recovery fishes to aid in carbon removal. Priority research is required by the team at $125-200 million, according to the report.

One approach is Artificial Upwelling and Downwelling. Upwelling moves cooler, more nutrient- and CO2-rich deep water to the surface, stimulating the growth of phytoplankton, which absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. Downwelling moves surface water and carbon to the deep ocean

Artificial Upwelling or Downwelling are two options. The surface water is cooler and more CO2-rich than deep waters. It stimulates phytoplankton growth, which takes in atmospheric carbon dioxide. The downwelling process moves carbon and surface water to the depths of the ocean.

Then there is Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement, which chemically alters ocean water to increase its alkalinity in order to enhance reactions that take up atmospheric CO2 an approached that needs $125 million to $200 million to properly research.

Electrochemical Processes would use an electric current to pass through water. This is to raise seawater’s pH and increase its capacity to capture carbon dioxide.

According to the report, $350 million is needed for priority research. This includes demonstration projects as well as for developing and evaluating improved materials.