New planning tool developed for ocean iron fertilization

A snapshot of the Ocean Iron Fertilization Site Suitability Planning Tool.
May 23, 2024

A new planning tool has been developed to help identify suitable locations to assess the safety and effectiveness of ocean iron fertilization – a potential method for marine carbon dioxide removal (mCDR).

Akash Rastogi, lead strategist at the Ocean Frontier Institute, was one of six advisors who provided guidance and expertise in the development of the tool, which was led by Ocean Visions.

“mCDR offers significant potential in achieving our global climate targets,” says Rastogi. “However, it needs to be pursued with a sense of prudence and responsibility.”

“The tool that Ocean Visions has developed, in partnership with Environmental Systems Research Institute, is an example of the enablers we need to safely move mCDR research efforts forward.”

Ocean iron fertilization involves introducing iron-containing compounds (like iron sulfate) to iron-poor areas of the ocean surface. This technique may help to stimulate phytoplankton production, which could potentially enhance biological productivity and accelerate carbon dioxide sequestration from the atmosphere.

“We’re grateful to Akash and other expert advisors for their guidance and input,” says Ocean Visions Chief Scientist Dr. David Koweek. “Their contributions are critical to advancing the research we need to determine the safeness and viability of OIF as a potential climate solution.”

A snapshot of the Ocean Iron Fertilization Site Suitability Planning Tool.

The tool incorporates oceanographic data with social considerations such as fishing activity, local dependence on marine resources, the location of marine protected areas, and nearness to commercial ports, providing researchers and decision makers with a more intricate picture of potential field trial sites.

“The approach to site selection needs to incorporate not only an assessment of the ocean state conditions optimal for deployments, but also other practical factors determined by the entire supply chain involved,”

says Rastogi. “I was glad to offer my insights in development of this planning tool."