Regional scale impacts of distinct CO2 additions in the North Sea

A marine system model applied to the North West European shelf seas is used to simulate the consequences of distinct CO2 additions such as those that could arise from a failure of geological sequestration schemes. The choice of leak scenario is guided by only a small number of available observations and requires several assumptions; hence the simulations reported on are engineered to be worse case scenarios. The simulations indicate that only the most extreme scenarios are capable of producing perturbations that are likely to have environmental consequences beyond the locality of a leak event. Tidally driven mixing rather than air–sea exchange is identified as the primary mechanism for dispersal of added CO2. We show that, given the available evidence, the environmental impact of a sequestration leak is likely to be insignificant when compared to the expected impact from continued non-mitigated atmospheric CO2 emissions and the subsequent acidification of the marine system. We also conclude that more research, including both leak simulations and assessment of ecological impacts is necessary to fully understand the impact of CO2 additions to the marine system.

Blackford J., Jones N., Proctor R. & Holt J., 2008. Regional scale impacts of distinct CO2 additions in the North Sea. Marine Pollution Bulletin 56(8): 1461-1468. Article.

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