Re-carbonizing the sea: Scientists to start testing a big ocean carbon idea

Re-carbonizing the sea: Scientists to start testing a big ocean carbon idea

Imagine showers of little green sand grains drifting through the ocean: collecting on coral reefs, rolling off the backs of whales, sprinkling schools of tuna — and helping to save all those creatures, and humanity, too. At least that’s the idea. These green showers are crushed olivine, an abundant volcanic mineral, delivered by a fleet of ships. And it is climate change that launched these thousand ships, crisscrossing the ocean in a surreal bid to undo the damage we’ve done. You see, as the olivine settles on the ocean floor it disintegrates and chemically transforms, making that part of the ocean a little more alkaline and converting dissolved CO2 into carbonate and bicarbonate molecules, a process that stores the carbon for hundreds of thousands of years. The seawater can then trap more CO2 from the air to replace the stored carbon. Scientists call this ocean alkalinity enhancement, or OAE, and some believe it could be a vital tool for drawing down and securely storing a portion of the 1.5 trillion tons of CO2 that we’ve added to the atmosphere since the industrial revolution, not to mention the billions more we’ll add before we hit net zero. Olivine is a volcanic mineral which, when introduced to the ocean, disintegrates and chemically transforms, making that part of the ocean a little more alkaline and securely storing dissolved CO2 as carbonate and bicarbonate molecules. Image by James St. John via Flickr (CC BY 2.0). “Ocean alkalinity enhancements show some outsized promise” in terms…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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