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Volcanic ash could help reduce carbon dioxide associated with climate change

Volcanic ash could help reduce CO2 associated with climate change

Volcanic detrital flow avalanche on the Soufrierre Hills volcano, Montserrat. Credit: Martin Palmer

Scientists from the University of Southampton studying ways to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere believe volcanic ash could play an important role.

A team from the University̵

7;s School of Ocean and Earth Science has modeled the impact of the spread of volcanic ash from a ship to an area of ​​the ocean floor to help amplify the natural processes that block CO2 at the bottom of the sea. They found that the technique has the potential to be cheaper, technologically simpler, and less invasive than other techniques for removing harmful gases.

The researchers’ findings are published in the journal Anthropocene.

Human-caused climate change is one of the most pressing topics in contemporary science and politics. The impact of hundreds of years of greenhouse gas emissions is becoming clearer each year, with environmental changes including heat waves, droughts, wildfires and other extreme weather events.

“As a result of overwhelming evidence, policymakers have begun to take steps to incorporate emission reductions into policies, such as in the 2015 Paris Agreement with its long-term goal of ensuring global average temperatures do not exceed 2 °. C above pre-industrial However, it is becoming clear that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, active removal of greenhouse gases (GGRs) will be required, “explains Martin Palmer, co-author of the study and professor of geochemistry at University of Southampton.

GGR techniques remove carbon dioxide and other gases from the atmosphere, thereby reducing the greenhouse effect and, in the long run, slowing down climate change. There are numerous potential approaches to GGR, from simple, such as reforestation, to complex, such as active CO removal.2 from the atmosphere.

Most volcanoes are located near the oceans, and every year millions of tons of volcanic ash fall into them and settle on the sea floor. Once there, it increases carbon storage in marine sediments and reduces atmospheric CO22 levels. This is important because the oceans are the largest man-made CO reservoir2 on earth.

“One of the ways the oceans block CO2 it is by storing it in sediments on the sea floor as calcium carbonate and organic carbon. In our work, we discuss how this natural process can be augmented by artificially adding ash to the oceans, “says Jack Longman, lead author and former postdoctoral research assistant at the University of Southampton, who now holds a position at the Institute. for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), University of Oldenburg.

Scientists modeled the effect of distributing volcanic ash from a ship to an area of ​​the ocean. The results suggest that this method could sequester up to 2,300 tons of CO2 for 50,000 tons of ash delivered at a cost of $ 50 per ton of CO2 seized: much cheaper than most other GGR methods. Furthermore, the approach is simply an augmentation of a natural process, does not involve expensive technology, and does not require the reuse of valuable agricultural land.

Scientists say more research is needed to test the effectiveness of enhanced ash deposition in the oceans and to make sure there are no unexpected side effects, but early indications suggest it could be applied easily and inexpensively in many areas of the world. .

How will the carbon cycle in the ocean evolve in the future? The new project aims to find out

More information:
Jack Longman et al, The vitality of greenhouse gas removal by artificially adding volcanic ash to the ocean, Anthropocene (2020). DOI: 10.1016 / j.ancene.2020.100264

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Southampton University

Volcanic ash could help reduce carbon dioxide associated with climate change (2020, September 29)
recovered on September 30, 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-09-volcanic-ash-carbon-dioxide-climate.html

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