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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
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A Research Strategy for
Ocean-based Carbon
Dioxide Removal

and Sequestration

Committee on A Research Strategy for Ocean-based
Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration

Ocean Studies Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

A Consensus Study Report of

images

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

This activity was supported by contracts between the National Academy of Sciences and ClimateWorks Foundation, Contract No. 10004979. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-08761-2
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-08761-9
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/26278
Library of Congress Control Number: 2022933129

Additional copies of this publication are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.

Copyright 2022 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26278.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
×

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The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
×

Image

Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
×

COMMITTEE ON A RESEARCH STRATEGY FOR OCEAN-BASED CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL AND SEQUESTRATION

Scott C. Doney, Chair, University of Virginia, Charlottesville

Holly Buck, University at Buffalo, NY

Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA

M. Debora Iglesias-Rodriguez, University of California, Santa Barbara

Kathryn Moran, University of Victoria, BC

Andreas Oschlies, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany

Phil Renforth, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK

Joe Roman, University of Vermont, Burlington

Gaurav N. Sant, University of California, Los Angeles

David A. Siegel, University of California, Santa Barbara

Romany Webb, Columbia Law School, New York, NY

Angelicque White, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Honolulu

Staff

Kelly Oskvig, Senior Program Officer, Ocean Studies Board

Bridget McGovern, Research Associate, Ocean Studies Board

Trent Cummings, Senior Program Assistant, Ocean Studies Board, until July 2021

Elizabeth Costa, Program Assistant, Ocean Studies Board

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
×

OCEAN STUDIES BOARD

Larry A. Mayer (NAE), Outgoing Chair, University of New Hampshire, Durham

Claudia Benitez-Nelson, Incoming Chair, University of South Carolina, Columbia

Mark Abbott, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Carol Arnosti, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Lisa Campbell, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Thomas S. Chance, ASV Global, LLC (ret.), Broussard, Louisiana

Daniel Costa, University of California, Santa Cruz

John Delaney, University of Washington (ret.), Seattle

Scott Glenn, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Patrick Heimbach, University of Texas, Austin

Marcia Isakson, University of Texas, Austin

Lekelia Jenkins, Arizona State University, Tempe

Nancy Knowlton (NAS), Smithsonian Institution (ret.), Washington, District of Columbia

Anthony MacDonald, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Thomas Miller, University of Maryland, Solomons

S. Bradley Moran, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Ruth M. Perry, Shell Exploration & Production Company, Houston, Texas

James Sanchirico, University of California, Davis

Mark J. Spalding, The Ocean Foundation, Washington, District of Columbia

Richard Spinrad, Oregon State University, Corvallis

Robert S. Winokur, Michigan Tech Research Institute, Silver Spring, Maryland

OSB Staff Members

Susan Roberts, Director

Stacee Karras, Senior Program Officer

Kelly Oskvig, Senior Program Officer

Emily Twigg, Senior Program Officer

Vanessa Constant, Associate Program Officer

Megan May, Associate Program Officer

Alexandra Skrivanek, Associate Program Officer

Bridget McGovern, Research Associate

Shelly-Ann Freeland, Financial Business Partner

Thanh Nguyen, Financial Business Partner

Trent Cummings, Senior Program Assistant, until July 2021

Kenza Sidi-Ali-Cherif, Program Assistant

Grace Callahan, Program Assistant

Elizabeth Costa, Program Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
×

Preface

Over the past several hundred years, society’s expanding consumption of fossil fuels and extensive alteration of the terrestrial biosphere has led to a dramatic rise in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. The resulting global climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing society today. Slowing human CO2 emissions is particularly challenging because fossil fuel use is embedded widely in our modern energy system and economy. Thus, a broad net is being cast searching for a portfolio of solutions to decarbonize the economy and perhaps even actively remove and safely sequester CO2 away from the atmosphere.

More than a half century ago, Revelle and Suess1 wrote a pioneering study on the ocean’s role in removing from the atmosphere excess CO2 due to human emissions. Their paper was published at a time when there was quite limited scientific information on the ocean carbon system. It was published just months before the start of the iconic atmosphere CO2 time series by David Keeling in 1957 at Mauna Loa, Hawai’i, that provides one of the most robust constraints on the fate of human CO2 emissions. Based on decades of subsequent ocean science and carbon cycle research, modern estimates clearly indicate that natural ocean processes act to remove from the atmosphere about a quarter of human CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption and deforestation. Thus, the ocean already provides an invaluable service slowing the atmospheric growth of CO2 and associated climate change, though at the cost of rising levels of ocean acidification.

The predominant long-term fate of excess CO2 from human emissions is to end up in the ocean over centuries to millennia. This raises the question of whether society could (and should) attempt to accelerate ocean processes that remove and store CO2 away from the atmosphere. Numerous approaches for deliberate ocean carbon dioxide removal (CDR), ranging across biological and geochemical methods to more industrial techniques, have been proposed by scientists, engineers, and technologists. As described in the body of this report, there remain crucial unresolved questions regarding many aspects of ocean CDR, and this report provides an overview of our current state of understanding and a possible research path forward to resolve these major knowledge gaps.

___________________

1 Revelle, R., and H.E. Suess, 1957: Carbon dioxide exchange between atmosphere and ocean and the question of an increase of atmospheric CO2 during the past decades, Tellus, 9(1), 18-27, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2153-3490.1957.tb01849.x.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
×

This is a report on a research agenda to better inform future societal decisions on ocean CDR; the Committee is not advocating either for or against possible future ocean CDR deployments, and the Committee recognizes that ocean CDR would, at best, complement the role of climate mitigation approaches including decarbonization.

This report builds heavily on previous National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine studies, in particular the rationale and framing for research on CDR provided in the 2015 report on Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration. The ocean CDR report here also adds to the more terrestrial focus of the 2019 report on Negative Emissions Technologies and Reliable Sequestration: A Research Agenda.

The report benefited greatly from many insightful presentations given by external speakers and the participants at the Committee’s public meetings and workshop. Because of COVID-19, the Committee’s work was completed under the unusual conditions of virtual-only meetings, a challenge compounded by a relatively short time span for the report. I want to extend a special thanks to the Committee members and National Academies staff for their dedication, energy, and thoughtful discussion and contributions over the past year.

Scott Doney
Chair, Committee on A Research Strategy for Ocean Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
×

Acknowledgments

This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Mark Barteau, Texas

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
×

A&M University, and Jim Yoder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring Committee and the National Academies.

During the study process, we had a number of speakers both at committee meetings and at a series of workshops. We thank the following individuals for their contributions during the study process: Brad Ack, Jess Adkins, Mark Preston Aragones, Trisha B. Atwood, David Babson, Lennart Bach, Philip Boyd, Ellen Briggs, Wil Burns, Ken Caldeira, Fei Chai, Francisco Chavez, Bill Collins, Sarah Cooley, Emily Cox, Andrew Dickson, Carlos M. Duarte, Matthew Eisaman, Julio Friedmann, Halley E. Froehlich, Oliver Geden, Dwight Gledhill, Olavur Gregersen, Nicolas Gruber, Jill Hamilton, Barbara Haya, Stephanie Henson, Joseph Hezir, Baerbel Hoenisch, K. John Holmes, Anna-Maria Hubert, Xabier Irigoien, Nick Kamenos, David P. Keller, David Koweek, Dorte Krause-Jensen, Tim Kruger, Ricardo Letelier, Catherine Lovelock, Niall MacDowell, Filip Meysman, Juan Moreno-Cruz, David P. Morrow, Ryan Orbuch, Andy Pershing, Albert J. Plueddemann, Greg Rau, Miles Richardson, Ros Rickaby, Kate Ricke, Andy Ridgwell, Ulf Riebesell, Joellen Russell, Christopher L. Sabine, Terre Satterfield, Raymond Schmitt, Gyami Shrestha, Lisa Suatoni, Shuchi Talati, Chris Vivian, Brian von Herzen, Marc von Keitz, George Waldbusser, Heather Willauer, Phillip Williamson, Richard Zeebe, and Robert Zeller.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26278.
×
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As of 2021, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have reached historically unprecedented levels, higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years. Worldwide efforts to reduce emissions by creating a more efficient, carbon-free energy system may not be enough to stabilize the climate and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) strategies, which remove and sequester carbon from the atmosphere, likely will be needed to meet global climate goals. The ocean, covering 70% of the Earth's surface, includes much of the global capacity for natural carbon sequestration; the ocean also holds great potential for uptake and longerterm sequestration of human-produced CO2.

This report builds on previous work from the National Academies to assess what is currently known about the benefits, risks, and potential for responsible scale-up of six specific ocean-based CDR strategies as identified by the sponsor, ClimateWorks Foundation. It describes the research needed to advance understanding of those approaches and address knowledge gaps. The resulting research agenda is meant to provide an improved and unbiased knowledge base for the public, stakeholders, and policymakers to make informed decisions on the next steps for ocean CDR, as part of a larger climate mitigation strategy; it is not meant to lock in or advocate for any particular approach.

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