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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Carbon Sequestration: The Last Hope To Deal With Global Warming?

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The process of global warming is being accelerated by the emission of soil carbon into the atmosphere. Land degradation has turned out to be a substantial contributor to the climate crisis.  A special report on global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that we are destined to fail in our target of limiting global warming to 1.5C, compared to pre-industrial levels, without the large-scale removal of carbon from the atmosphere. And the best way to do so is by carbon sequestration.

Carbon sequestering captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it safely in its natural sinks – forests, soil, and grasslands. It will reduce the volume of atmospheric CO2 and reduce climate change and global warming.

The stabilization of the amount of the concentrated greenhouse gas also reduces the ‘carbon footprint.’ While it’s a normal occurrence, man can also hasten the process, and help in releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Carbon Sequestration Removes Greenhouse Gases From The Atmosphere

It is vital to mark that not just carbon dioxide, but various other types of carbon are stored during carbon sequestration. Thus the process is done through photosynthesis, which is the natural process, and also by physical means. The best way to do it artificially is to increase forest cover rapidly and thus revitalize carbon sequestering.

While decomposing natural matters and forest fires lead to the natural release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, man has become the biggest cause of it through land-use change, and through generating energy by burning fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal.

Contributing To The Process Of Carbon Sequestering

As CO2 and other gases build up in the atmosphere, heat gets trapped in the atmosphere and contributes to the process of climate change. So it is imperative that we first learn the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide, which is vital to fight global warming and climate change.

Also read: Space Tourism Sparks Off Environmental Concerns: Will Only Add To Global Warming Warn Experts

Carbon is one of the basic building blocks of biomolecules. It exists in all forms – solid, gaseous, and dissolved. Even diamond and graphite diamond contain carbon which transforms to carbon dioxide when it comes into contact with oxygen.

Carbon dioxide produced in coal-powered plants and other giant industrial sources can be captured and stored in long-term release units that absorb the carbon back into the earth. This process can be achieved by injecting it into natural sinks including soil, forests, and oceans, or by injection and through geological carbon sequestration in rock formations underground.

The Actual Process Of Carbon Sequestration

The sequestration process rests on the form used. A common process favored by scientists, engineers, and policymakers is the Carbon Capture and Storage process (CSS). This geoengineering process involves separating carbon dioxide from various other gases that get mixed up during various industrial processes.

The next step involves the compression and transportation of the gas to an isolated location to ensure long-term storage. The capture of CO2 in the CSS process is at the actual source of its emission before it is released. But the process may also indicate the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere using ‘artificial trees’ and scrubbing towers.

The captured carbon dioxide once trapped and transported is stored in natural geological storage capacities such as deep saline formations. Such sedimentary rocks have their pore spaces saturated with highly saline water. The deep oceans and depleted gas and oil reservoirs may also be used to store carbon dioxide.

These locations help in the constructive use of carbon dioxide when compared to the direct release into the atmosphere. Releasing carbon dioxide in the deep ocean, for instance, will help planktons convert it into oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. The process is similar to the way trees and plants on land take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen.

Various Types Of Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration can broadly be divided into four major processes: biological, geological, technological, and industrial.

Biological carbon sequestering is utilizing natural devices like vegetation, forests, and grasslands, and also in oceans and soil.

Carbon sequestration

Oceans naturally capture around 25% of the CO2 produced by humans and other processes. The colder part of the oceans which are nutrient-rich absorb the maximum amount of carbon dioxide. The Polar Regions thus absorb more than the equatorial regions.

Forests and other plant forms like the grasslands absorb another 25% of the carbon dioxide emitted. They are then absorbed by the soil through falling leaves and branches. The rapid depletion of forest cover has drastically affected the ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide.

The process of photosynthesis helps carbon sequestering in the soil. Carbon is also stored as carbonates in soil. These are created over eons when dissolved carbon dioxide percolates into the soil. Carbonates help store carbon for ages.

The grassland is more reliable than forests for storing carbon as they are less susceptible to forest fires and deforestation. Even as they burn, carbon stays bound to the underground roots. Thus they are more resilient than forests.

In geological carbon sequestration, carbon dioxide gets stored in geological formations under the ground. Carbon dioxide is injected into a porous rock formation that helps in long-term storage.

The technological process for sequestration is relatively new. This process involves the use of CO2 as a resource. For instance, the production of graphene from carbon dioxide reduces carbon in the atmosphere.

The industrial method of carbon sequestration captures carbon through the power plant, oxyfuel, and pre and post-combustion processes.

Carbon Sequestration And Its Contribution To The Atmosphere

Carbon sequestration protects the environment, reduces global warming, and reduces the acidification of the oceans. It also helps to mitigate the emission of carbon dioxide.

Also read: Sea Level Rise: Ominous Effect Of Global Warming And Climate Change

The ultimate aim of all carbon sequestering is to halt global warming. The increase in the level of carbon dioxide will trap heat in the atmosphere and increase global warming.

Carbon sequestration

The upper layers of the ocean absorb close to 30% of the carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels. This has led to a rise in the acidic level in the oceans adversely affecting marine life.

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