AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the world looks for ways to reduce our carbon dioxide output in order to curb climate change, there’s another option to reduce carbon — recapturing it.
KXAN Meteorologist Nick Bannin spoke with Dr. Kevin Kroeger from the United States Geological Survey about some ways they’re looking at storing CO2 in our oceans to make this world more livable while we attempt to reduce our carbon footprint above the sea surface.
Nick Bannin, KXAN Meteorologist: Dr. Kroeger, you’re looking into ways to store more CO2 in our oceans. What are the benefits for this?
Dr. Kevin Kroeger, USGS: It turns out that wetlands, including salt marshes and mangroves, they naturally remove CO2 from the atmosphere and export a lot of it to the ocean… in a form of carbon, called bicarbonate, which is alkaline, and it counters some of the ocean acidification. There’s a second way, which is an approach to accelerate natural rock weathering. So rock weathering is a reaction in which rainwater mixes with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, producing a weak acid. This acid then reacts with alkaline rocks in the Earth’s crust that produces, again, bicarbonate a form of alkalinity that increases the alkalinity of the ocean.
Bannin: So how is the USGS… researching these various projects to figure out not only how to capture more CO2 in the ocean, but to do it without raising the acidity?
Kroeger: One of the ways is by examining the rates and the processes by which natural ecosystems export bicarbonate to the ocean. So the salt marshes and the mangroves, if we identify degraded wetlands and restore them to a healthy condition, do they export more of this beneficial form of carbon that will be then stored in the ocean for an extended time? And secondly, the question is if we take these alkaline rocks crushed into a very fine material, and we add them to an environment like this, to a salt marsh or to a mangrove, can we accelerate the rate at which that rock dissolves and increase the rate of which this beneficial form of carbon bicarbonate is exported to the ocean?
Bannin: Now, I think of having the oceans absorb CO2, as like burying our problems. Is it more of a temporary solution until we can better reduce our emissions here above the sea level?
Kroeger: The emissions definitely need to be reduced. We can’t capture enough carbon from the atmosphere to offset ongoing really high rates of emissions.