The direct injection of unwanted carbon dioxide deep into the ocean is one suggested strategy to help control rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and mitigate the effects of global warming. But, like the problems associated with the long-term storage of nuclear waste, finding a safe place to sequester the carbon may be more difficult than scientists first anticipated.
Because the atmosphere interacts with the oceans, the net uptake of carbon dioxide and the oceans’ sequestration capacity would be affected by a change in climate. Just how effective carbon sequestration would be, in light of projected climate change, has not been studied before. Indeed, estimating the impact of carbon injection is complicated because of a limited understanding of climate and oceanic carbon cycle feedback mechanisms.
"Through various feedback mechanisms, the ocean circulation could change and affect the retention time of carbon dioxide injected into the deep ocean, thereby indirectly altering oceanic carbon storage and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration," said Atul Jain, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Where you inject the carbon dioxide turns out to be a very important issue."
James Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
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