Daniel Harrison, a postgraduate research engineer at the University of Sydney, has published results of research demonstrating that fertilisation of the ocean with iron does not store carbon long enough to be an attractive contributor to climate management.
Ocean iron fertilisation is a process that attempts to encourage phytoplankton growth in regions with unused nutrients with the aim of storing carbon away from the atmosphere.
Dr Harrison found that, while iron fertilisation of high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll regions of the ocean captures and stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it does not store carbon long enough to be an attractive contributor to climate management.
The process would also be expensive. The study concluded that, in the Southern Ocean, the mean cost would be more than $US400 per tonne of carbon dioxide sequestered from the atmosphere for 100 years or more.
In his paper, Dr Harrison said that "As well as being expensive, the amount of carbon stored for more than a century is so small that it is uncertain whether measurable storage will occur at all."