09/20/2021 at 4:02 PM CEST
The solution to global warming is largely found in the oceans, which have a great power to capture CO2 from the atmosphere. For this reason, several institutions have launched an experiment to accelerate this sequestration of carbon from the sea.
The east coast of Gran Canaria has hosted since last week the European project OceanNETs, of the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Germany (Geomar) and the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), which is studying for the first time how to make the ocean absorb more CO2 through alkalization processes and thus help alleviate global warming.
It is the “most ambitious & rdquor; of those carried out in this field of what are known as “negative technologies & rdquor; due to its potential to reduce the amount of CO2 present in the atmosphere, the coordinator of the Biological Oceanography Group of the ULPGC, Professor Javier Arístegui, who is participating in the experiment, assured the . agency.
More than 50 scientists from six countries will investigate for seven weeks to what extent the ocean can help absorb more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and what impacts this has on marine life.
In the long term and under natural conditions, most of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released by humans is recaptured by the weathering of rocks on land and stored in the ocean as dissolved bicarbonate. However, it takes up to ten thousand years for the human CO2 footprint to be largely eliminated through this process.
It is, therefore, too slow a process to play an effective role in combating climate change in the coming decades, unless this process can be actively accelerated.
Check if this acceleration is possible and see how the biotic communities of the sea react is what is currently being investigated by 50 scientists from six countries under the leadership of Geomar in a field experiment in Gran Canaria with the multidisciplinary logistical support of PLOCAN’s ground facilities.
Counteract ocean acidification
On nine giant test tubes in the sea, the so-called mesocosms, the researchers are simulating accelerated weathering by adding minerals, as they also enter the oceans through natural weathering.
This method known as “alkalization of the oceans & rdquor; it has the collateral benefit of counteracting their acidification, which is a consequence of continuous CO2 emissions and which is what is causing, for example, the loss of coral reefs and shell animals.
The objective of the research is to see how biological communities enclosed in mesocosms react to this intervention. In addition to the additional binding of CO2 in seawater, the method known as alkalinization of the oceans has the side benefit of counteracting the acidification of the oceans.
Continuous acidification of seawater is a consequence of continuous CO2 emissions. About a quarter of the CO2 released annually by humans dissolves in the ocean and reacts with water to form carbonic acid, with serious consequences for marine life.
Over the next seven weeks the goal is to investigate the potential risks and side effects of ocean alkalization on marine communities, but also to check for any positive effects of slowing ocean acidification. In addition, information is expected on the efficacy and safety of ocean alkalinization as a method of CO2 removal.
Professor Javier Arístegui highlights that the scientific support of the ULPGC, the logistics provided by the Canary Islands Oceanic Platform from the port of Taliarte (Gran Canaria), as well as the collaboration that the Canarian university has maintained for years with the German study center Geomar, have made it possible for this unprecedented experiment to materialize on the islands.
According to current estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the goal of limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees, adopted in the 2015 Paris Agreement, cannot be achieved without the active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. and, from this OceanNETs project, it is investigated to what extent ocean-based approaches can contribute to this.
For this reason, Arístegui has highlighted that this type of experiment is essential to be able to decide if it can be used on a wide scale, as a feasible alternative to other negative technologies with less mitigating potential, although its results will be incorporated into a general evaluation of all oceanic measures for the active elimination of CO2.
The multidisciplinary nature of the project is another of its peculiarities, by combining the experience of scientists from the natural sciences, engineering, economics, sociology and the law of the sea, as it seeks to weigh all the advantages and disadvantages to mitigate climate change in a social context, stressed the ULPGC expert.
In addition to the OceanNETs project, funded within the framework of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program, the study in Gran Canaria is co-financed by the EU project called AQUACOSM-plus and the project Elimination of carbon dioxide in the oceans (Ocean-CDR ) of the Helmholtz Association.
Project website: https://www.plocan.eu/plocan-acoge-el-estudio-oceannets-2021-hacer-del-oceano-un-aliado-en-la-proteccion-del-clima/
Blog with the evolution of the project: https://www.oceanblogs.org/oceannets/
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