Mitigating the atmospheric CO2 increase and ocean acidification by adding limestone powder to upwelling regions

The feasibility of enhancing the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere by adding calcium carbonate (CaCO3) powder to the ocean and of partially reversing the acidification of the ocean and the decrease in calcite supersaturation resulting from the absorption of anthropogenic CO2 is investigated. CaCO3 could be added to the surface layer in regions where the depth of the boundary between supersaturated and unsaturated water is relatively shallow (250–500 m) and where the upwelling velocity is large (30–300 m a1). The CaCO3 would dissolve within a few 100 m depth below the saturation horizon, and the dissolution products would enter the mixed layer within a few years to decades, facilitating further absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere. This absorption of CO2 would largely offset the increase in mixed layer pH and carbonate supersaturation resulting from the upwelling of dissolved limestone powder. However, if done on a large scale, the reduction in atmospheric CO2 due to absorption of CO2 by the ocean would reduce the amount of CO2 that needs to be absorbed by the mixed layer, thereby allowing a larger net increase in pH and in supersaturation in the regions receiving CaCO3. At the same time, the reduction in atmospheric pCO2 would cause outgassing of CO2 from ocean regions not subject to addition of CaCO3, thereby increasing the pH and supersaturation in these regions as well. Geographically optimal application of 4 billion t of CaCO3 a1 (0.48 Gt C a1) could induce absorption of atmospheric CO2 at a rate of 600 Mt CO2 a1 after 50 years, 900 Mt CO2 a1 after 100 years, and 1050 Mt CO2 a1 after 200 years.
Harvey LDD, 2008. Mitigating the atmospheric CO2 increase and ocean acidification by adding limestone powder to upwelling regions. Journal of Geophysical Research 113(C4) pp. 21. Article.

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