Removing accumulated carbon dioxide to fight climate change

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NOAA is looking into options for removing already accumulated carbon. — MV Times

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced in a press release it issued a new 65-page draft research strategy about the possibility of “removing the carbon dioxide that has already accumulated in the atmosphere.” NOAA is inviting the public to “join upcoming listening sessions that will guide the agency’s potential role” in this process. 

According to the release, reducing greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide is necessary to “address the impacts of climate change.” One possible method scientists have been examining is the long-term storage of carbon dioxide on land or in the ocean. NOAA is “uniquely suited to provide leadership for a comprehensive assessment of carbon dioxide removal,” since it is a “leader in climate research, ocean science, and coastal management,” according to the release. Much of the information about continually rising greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere and the ocean comes from NOAA’s observational networks and research programs. 

“Multiple strategies will be needed to address global climate change. Emission reductions are certainly required, but there is growing interest in methods to address the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere,” Steve Thur, NOAA assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research, said in the release. “Many techniques are promising in theory, but we need to evaluate their effectiveness and scalability, and understand the potential benefits and the environmental risks that come with each one.”

While this “report does not endorse any one technique,” it identifies and explains 11 carbon dioxide removal strategies, outlines the relative strengths and weaknesses, and describes NOAA’s potential research contributions.

Three carbon dioxide techniques the release lists as examples include cultivating algae in special aquaculture settings, managing land “to encourage and increase the naturally occurring storage of carbon in coastal wetlands,” and ocean fertilization by adding artificial micronutrients or macronutrients to increase phytoplankton growth with “the ultimate goal” to extract “carbon from the ocean using various types of biological pumps.”

Meanwhile, NOAA can use “existing and innovative observations, models, ecosystem assessments, and spatial planning tools to inform evidence-based decisions.” According to the release, these decisions may be used “by many in the carbon-removal sector, including state and local governments, private sector entities, and nonprofit organizations, as well as federal agencies.” 

NOAA will host three listening sessions to gain public input on the draft research strategy; registration can be done at bit.ly/3gYfwhy. The virtual listening sessions will be held on the following dates and times: Monday, Dec. 12, at 3 pm; Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 10 am; and

Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 5 pm.

A two-page summary of the report is also available online. A Federal Register notice with instructions for submitting comments will be published soon, according to the release.