Climate engineering by artificial ocean upwelling: Channelling the sorcerer’s apprentice

Recent suggestions to reduce the accumulation of anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have included ocean fertilization by artificial upwelling. Our coupled carbon-climate model simulations suggest that artificial upwelling may, under most optimistic assumptions, be able to sequester atmospheric CO2 at a rate of about 0.9 PgC/yr. However, the model predicts that about 80% of the carbon sequestered is stored on land, as a result of reduced respiration at lower air temperatures brought about by upwelling of cold waters. This remote and distributed carbon sequestration would make monitoring and verification particularly challenging. A second caveat predicted by our simulations is that whenever artificial upwelling is stopped, simulated surface temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise quickly and for decades to centuries to levels even somewhat higher than experienced in a world that never engaged in artificial upwelling.



Oschlies, A.,Pahlow, M.,Yool, A., & Matear, R. J., in press. Climate engineering by artificial ocean upwelling: Channelling the sorcerer’s apprentice. Geophysical Research Letters doi:10.1029/2009GL041961. Article (subscription required).

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