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Rock Weathering Counter Fossil-Fuel Emissions

15.12.2015 18:26 Age: 2 yrs

Scientists have discovered enhanced weathering of rock could counter man-made fossil fuel CO2 emissions and help to protect our oceans

Click to enlarge. Rock weathering could help to avert ocean acidification. Courtesy: University of Sheffield.


From the University of Sheffield


Chemical breakdown of rocks, weathering, is an important but very slow part of the carbon cycle that ultimately leads to CO2 being locked up in carbonates on the ocean floor. Artificial acceleration of this carbon sink via distribution of pulverized silicate rocks across terrestrial landscapes may help offset anthropogenic CO2 emissions. We show that idealized enhanced weathering scenarios over less than a third of tropical land could cause significant drawdown of atmospheric CO2−2 yr−1) and composition. At the higher application rate, end-of-century ocean acidification is reversed under RCP4.5 and reduced by about two-thirds under RCP8.5. Additionally, surface ocean aragonite saturation state, a key control on coral calcification rates, is maintained above 3.5 throughout the low latitudes, thereby helping maintain the viability of tropical coral reef ecosystems. However, we highlight major issues of cost, social acceptability, and potential unanticipated consequences that will limit utilization and emphasize the need for urgent efforts to phase down fossil fuel emissions.



Enhanced weathering strategies for stabilizing climate and averting ocean acidification by Lyla L. Taylor, Joe Quirk, Rachel M. S. Thorley, Pushker A. Kharecha, James Hansen, Andy Ridgwell, Mark R. Lomas, Steve A. Banwart and David J. Beerling published in Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate2882

Read the abstract and get the paper here


University of Sheffield news release here.