Carbon dioxide sequestration through ocean fertilization and potential for harvest of calcium carbon

Started: October 2018

Supervisor: Dr Ali Mashayek, Prof Chris Cheeseman

Description of Research

Rapid accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide is the primary driver for warming trends that pose a number of risks to human populations. Apart from natural processes, there are three proposed solutions for tackling the associated risks. These are (1) reducing anthropogenic carbon dioxide, (2) reducing the vulnerability of human populations to climate change and (3) the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reliably sequestering it. My research focuses on the third of these solutions.

 Oceanic primary production accounts for 50% of global productivity and is part of the ‘biological pump’ that draws down carbon dioxide into the deep ocean. The lack of iron is shown to be a factor limiting primary production within phytoplankton communities. This project aims to investigate the possibility of using iron fertilisation, to enhance local primary production thereby accelerating carbon dioxide storage into the deep ocean in the form of calcium carbonate shells. This project will also aim to explore the possibility of harvesting these calcareous shells before they sink to the deep ocean, as calcium carbonate is a key construction material.