Scientists have discovered enhanced weathering of rock could counter man-made fossil fuel CO2 emissions and help to protect our oceans
An international team, led by researchers from the University of Sheffield, found that speeding up the naturally occurring process of the weathering of rock to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere could help to significantly stabilise the climate and avert ocean acidification caused by humans burning fossil fuels.
This is the first time the large-scale effects of weathering by vegetation, roots and symbiotic microbes have been investigated using a complex modelling approach to find out how to accelerate the Earth’s natural CO2 removal system to counter-act anthropogenic CO2 emissions and ocean acidification.
Weathering occurs when rainwater comes into contact with rocks under warm conditions causing the rock to breakdown chemically. This process converts CO2 to bicarbonate, a natural neutraliser, which eventually drains away via rivers to the oceans. Plants enhance this further by acidifying the soil particles around their roots. It helps if the surface of the rock particles is large such as in silicate rock like volcanic rock basalt.
Dr Lyla Taylor, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said: “Phasing down fossil fuel emissions remains a top priority but we also need to better understand potential strategies for safely removing atmospheric CO2 to avert dangerous climate change.”
“We have shown that, in principle, rock weathering could indeed draw down atmospheric CO2 and could benefit coral reefs in the ocean.
“The simulations we ran were idealised as they covered some of the world’s most ecologically sensitive terrestrial environments, however our evidence shows that the enhanced weathering strategy is definitely worth investigating further as it could play a significant role in offsetting the damage we are doing to the environment.”
Ocean acidification is caused by the uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere which leads to an ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth’s oceans and has a range of possible harmful consequences including coral bleaching which leaves the organism vulnerable to disease.
The United Nations estimates ocean acidification could cost the global economy one trillion US dollars a year by 2100.
Lead author of the study, Professor David Beerling, also from the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said: “This study is important because deploying strategies for removing CO2 from the atmosphere are strongly embedded in climate stabilisation policies but don’t yet exist.
“With the UN Climate Change Conference still at the forefront of everyone’s mind it is vital that we investigate the safety, effectiveness and benefits of methods such as enhanced weathering so we know what our options are. Detailed theoretical modelling like this is a good place to start.”
The Latest on: Enhanced rock weathering
via Google News
The Latest on: Enhanced rock weathering
- Ecosystem-bedrock interaction changes nutrient compartmentalization during early oxidative weatheringon October 18, 2019 at 2:12 am
Ecosystem-bedrock interactions power the biogeochemical cycles of Earth’s shallow crust, supporting life, stimulating substrate transformation, and spurring evolutionary innovation. While oxidative ...
- Findings question Himalayan rock climate hypothesison September 25, 2019 at 5:28 am
“If the cooling is not due to enhanced Himalayan rock weathering, then what processes have been overlooked?” On the left, large coccoliths–disks made of calcium carbonate that armor single-celled ...
- Massive Continental Collisions May Have Caused Earth's Ice Ageson March 14, 2019 at 11:21 am
New evidence relates all three to the same phenomenon: enormous continental collisions occurring in the tropics. The enhanced rock weathering these produce draws carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, ...
- Rocks weathering can help suck CO2 out of the airon May 14, 2018 at 3:10 pm
The weathering of rocks, as dull as it might seem at first glance, is a scientifically exciting part of this,” Strefler pointed out. Mining and grinding, as well as transport and distribution, were ...
- Adding Crushed Volcanic Rock to Farm Soil Could Boost Crops—and Slow Global Warmingon April 6, 2018 at 2:06 am
In a paper published recently in the scientific journal Nature Plants, an international team of researchers lays out the prospects for “enhanced rock weathering”—a process that uses pulverized ...
- Enhanced weathering of rocks could reduce atmospheric CO2 with limited effecton March 7, 2018 at 2:40 am
The weathering of rocks, as dull as it might seem at first glance, is a scientifically exciting part of this." Hence, the interest of assessing the economics of enhanced weathering for climate ...
- Enhanced weathering of rocks can help to pull CO2 out of the air -- a littleon March 5, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Enhanced weathering, the spreading of rock material on land, may be easier to realize. However, dunite -- the rock type most discussed amongst experts -- contains harmful substances, such as chromium ...
- Farming Crops with Rocks to Reduce CO2 and Improve Global Food Securityon February 21, 2018 at 7:56 am
Enhanced rock weathering involves adding minute rock grains to cropland soils which dissolve chemically taking up carbon dioxide and releasing plant essential nutrients. Unlike other carbon removal ...
- How farming with rocks could improve global food securityon February 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm
“It helps move the debate forward for an under-researched strategy of CO2 removal from the atmosphere – enhanced rock weathering – and highlights supplementary benefits for food and soils.” Through ...
- How Crushed Volcanic Rock in Farm Soil Could Help Slow Global Warming — and Boost Cropson February 20, 2018 at 3:39 pm
In a paper published this week in the scientific journal Nature Plants, an international team of researchers lays out the prospects for "enhanced rock weathering"—a process that uses pulverized ...
via Bing News