The research mission CDRmare

Research Mission of the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM) »Marine Carbon Sinks in Decarbonization Pathways«

The ocean contains more than 50 times as much carbon as the atmosphere. It has, so far, strongly mitigated anthropogenic CO2 effects by taking up about a quarter of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Yet, this oceanic share of climate mitigation is expected to decrease because ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation and other human-induced perturbations deteriorate the physical, chemical and biological capacities of the ocean to sequester carbon. While this further underlines the need for urgent emission reductions, all projected pathways that limit warming to 1.5 degrees additionally require the use of active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Current scenarios, such as those used by the IPCC, generally focus on land-based Carbon Dioxide Removal methods. However, meeting climate mitigation targets with land-based methods alone, will be extremely difficult if not impossible. Knowledge on how the ocean might contribute to the required decarbonization effort is limited. In order to support pathways that achieve the Paris Agreement goals, the Research Mission CDRmare will address as to whether and to what extent the ocean can play a substantial role in removing and storing CO2 from the atmosphere.

In order to examine how marine carbon pools may be utilized in the most sustainable way, interlinkages with, and impacts on, the marine environment, the Earth system and society will also be determined, as well as appropriate approaches for monitoring, attribution and accounting of marine carbon storage in a changing environment. Analyses of individual actions that aim to enhance marine carbon sinks will account for both risks and co-benefits, and assess their potential as well as economic, political, social and legal implications. In order to develop relevant assessment criteria and roadmaps, a tight dialogue with stakeholders will be an intrinsic part of the inter-and transdisciplinary Research Mission. The product will be a Marine Carbon Roadmap for a sustainable utilization of the marine carbon pools on regional to global scales. Given the pace of discussions in politics, it is planned to provide preliminary results of the Mission CDRmare already after 1.5 – 2 years to inform policymakers in a manner as timely as possible.


Prof. Dr. Andreas Oschlies // GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel

Prof. Dr. Gregor Rehder // Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW)