Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Carbon sequestration: Boon or burden

28.06.2010
The idea to sequester carbon is gaining support as a way to avoid global warming.

For example, the European Union plans to invest billions of Euros within the next ten years to develop carbon capture and storage whereby CO2 will be extracted at power plants and other combustion sites and stored underground.

But how effective is this procedure and what are the long-term consequences of leakage for the oceans and climate? A Niels Bohr Institute researcher has now cast light upon these issues. This research has just been published in the scientific journal, Nature Geoscience.

Large scale use of carbon sequestration could help to avoid extreme global warming that would otherwise occur in the near future unless fossil fuel emissions are reduced significantly. But it is not clear how effective different types of sequestration are in the long run, owing to leakage of stored CO2 back out to the atmosphere. Nor is it clear what would be the long-term consequences of such leakage for the Earth's environment.

Gary Shaffer, professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, and leader of the Danish Center for Earth System Science, made long model projections for a number of sequestration/leakage scenarios. His results show that leakage of the stored CO2 may bring about large atmosphere warming, large sea level rise and oxygen depletion, acidification and elevated CO2 concentrations in the ocean.

Storage of CO2 in the deep ocean is a poor choice since this creates grave problems for deep sea life and since CO2 stored this way returns to the atmosphere relatively quickly, bringing back the global warming.

Geological storage may be more effective in delaying the return of the warming and associated consequences but only if a CO2 leakage of 1 % or less per thousand years can be obtained.

A burden for future society

Alternatively, one could actively counter leakage from the ocean or geological reservoirs by re-sequestering CO2 to stabilize climate at some desired level. But it would be hard to gauge the global leakage rate to be matched by re-sequestration. Furthermore, re-sequestration would have to be carried out over many thousands of years, a burden for future society in line with that of long term management of nuclear waste.

"CO2 sequestration has many potential advantages over other forms of climate geoengineering. It makes good sense to modify the Earth's radiation balance by putting carbon back in where it came from. Atmospheric CO2 is long-lived and evenly-distributed globally making it possible to manage it in a long-term, controlled way with less chance for unpleasant climate surprises. However, one should not underestimate potential short and long-term problems with leakage from underground reservoirs. Carbon in light form will seek its way out of the ground or seabed. The present situation in the Gulf of Mexico is a poignant reminder of that", says Gary Shaffer.

Professor Shaffer concludes that "the dangers of carbon sequestration are real and the development of this technique should not be used as an argument for continued high fossil fuel emissions. On the contrary, we should greatly limit CO2 emissions in our time to reduce the need for massive carbon sequestration and thus reduce unwanted consequences and burdens over many future generations from the leakage of sequestered CO2."

Contact:

Gary Shaffer, Professor of Oceanography/Climate, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen and leader of the Danish Center for Earth System Science (tel. 45 35320612; e-mail: gs@nbi.ku.dk)

Professor Shaffer is also at the Department of Geophysics, University of Concepcion, Chile (e-mail: gshaffer@dgeo.udec.cl).

Gertie Skaarup | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nbi.dk

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting eruptions using satellites and math
28.06.2017 | Frontiers

nachricht NASA sees quick development of Hurricane Dora
27.06.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>