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Will an ocean be fertilised with at least 50 tonnes of iron, as part of a single geoengineering effort, by the end of 2023?

Iron fertilisation is the introduction of iron to iron-poor areas of the ocean surface to stimulate phytoplankton production to thereby draw carbon out of the atmosphere and into the ocean. Phytoplankton converts some of the CO2 dissolved in the ocean into biomass, which is then transported into deep sea by ocean circulation and gravity; effectively resulting in the long-term sequestering of carbon (Yoon et al., 2018).

Researchers worldwide have conducted 13 major iron-fertilization experiments in the open ocean since 1990 (Tollefson, 2017). All have sought to test whether stimulating phytoplankton growth can increase the amount of carbon dioxide that the organisms pull out of the atmosphere and deposit in the deep ocean when they die. Determining how much carbon is sequestered during such experiments has proved difficult, however, and scientists have raised concerns about potential adverse effects, such as toxic algal blooms.

Will an ocean be fertilised with at least 50 tonnes of iron, as part of a single geoengineering effort, by the end of 2023?


This question resolves positive if a single geoengineering effort to fertilise an ocean with the intention of stimulating biomass growth successfully introduces 50 tonnes of iron into an ocean by the end of 2023.

The fertiliser must contain the equivalent of 50 tonnes of iron, which contains 895335 moles of iron. Hence, fertilisers that contain compounds of iron must also contain at least 895335 moles of iron. For example, 136 tonnes of iron sulfate (FeSO4) contains roughly 895335 moles of iron. In the case the fertiliser is a mixture of different iron-containing compounds, the weight of iron shall be determined by the same method for the individual compounds multiplied by the fraction of its weight to total weight.

A single geoengineering effort is here defined as a project in which the relevant actors act on behalf of various organisations (e.g. national government, research organisation) that coordinate in precise terms on the employed geoengineering methods as well as the the extent to, and the duration for which these are to be deployed.

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