Assessing carbon dioxide removal through global and regional ocean alkalization under high and low emission pathways

Atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise, increasing the risk of severe impacts on the Earth system, and on the ecosystem services that it provides. Artificial Ocean Alkalization (AOA) is capable of reducing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, surface warming and addressing ocean acidification. Here we simulate global and regional responses to alkalinity addition (0.25 PmolAlk/year) using the CSIRO-Mk3L-COAL Earth System Model in the period 2020–2100, under high (RCP8.5) and low (RCP2.6) emissions. While regionally there are large changes associated with locations of AOA, globally we see only a very weak dependence on where and when AOA is applied. We see that under RCP2.6, while the carbon uptake associated with AOA is only ~ 60 % of the total under RCP8.5, the relative changes in temperature are larger, as are the changes in pH (1.4×) and aragonite saturation (1.7×). The results of this modelling study are significant as they demonstrate that AOA is more effective under lower emissions, and the higher the emissions the more AOA required to achieve the same reduction in global warming and ocean acidification. Finally, our simulations show AOA in the period 2020–2100 is capable of offsetting global warming and ameliorating ocean acidification increases due to low emissions, but regionally the response is more variable.

Lenton A., Matear R. J., Keller D. P., Scott V. & Vaughan N. E., 2017. Assessing carbon dioxide removal through global and regional ocean alkalization under high and low emission pathways. Earth System Dynamics. doi: 10.5194/esd-2017-92. Article.

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