Connect with us

Science

Applying rock dust to croplands could absorb up to 2 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere – Phys.org

Adding crushed rock dust to farmland could draw down up to two billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air per year and help meet key global climate targets, according to a major new study led by the University of Sheffield.

Published

on

post featured image
ADVERTISEMENT

Adding crushed rock dust to farmland could draw down up to two billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air per year and help meet key global climate targets, according to a major new study led by the University of Sheffield.
The technique, known as enhanced rock weathering, involves spreading finely crushed basalt, a natural volcanic rock, on fields to boost the soil’s ability to extract CO2 from the air.
In the first nation-by-nation assessment, published in Nature, scientists have demonstrated the method’s potential for carbon drawdown by major economies, and identified the costs and engineering challenges of scaling up the approach to help meet ambitious global CO2 removal targets. The research was led by experts at the University of Sheffield’s Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation, and the University’s Energy Institute.
Meeting the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global heating to below 2C above pre-industrial levels requires drastic cuts in emissions, as well as the active removal of between two and 10 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This new research provides a detailed initial assessment of enhanced rock weathering, a large-scale CO2 removal strategy that could make a major contribution to this effort.
The authors’ detailed analysis captures some of the uncertainties in enhanced weathering CO2 drawdown calculations and, at the same time, identifies the additional areas of uncertainty that future work needs to address specifically through large-scale field trials.
The study showed that China, the United States and Indiathe highest fossil fuel CO2 emittershave the highest potential for CO2 drawdown using rock dust on croplands. Together, these countries have the potential to remove approximately 1 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, at a cost comparable to that of other proposed carbon dioxide removal strategies (US$80-180 per ton of CO2).
Indonesia and Brazil, whose CO2 emissions are 10-20 times lower than the US and China, were also found to have relatively high CO2 removal potential due to their extensive agricultural lands, and climates accelerating the efficiency of rock weathering.
The scientists suggest that meeting the demand for rock dust to undertake large-scale CO2 drawdown might be achieved by using stockpiles of silicate rock dust left over from the mining industry, and are calling for governments to develop national inventories of these materials.
Calcium-rich silicate by-products of iron and steel manufacturing, as well as waste cement from construction and demolition, could also be processed and used in this way, improving the sustainability of these industries. These materials are usually recycled as low value aggregate, stockpiled at production sites or disposed of in landfills. China and India could supply the rock dust necessary for large-scale CO2 drawdown with their croplands using entirely recycled materials in the coming decades.
The technique would be straightforward to implement for farmers, who already tend to add agricultural lime to their soils. The researchers are calling for policy innovation that could support multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals using this technology. Government incentives to encourage agricultural application of rock dust could improve soil and farm livelihoods, as well as reduce CO2, potentially benefiting the world’s 2.5 billion smallholders and reducing poverty and hunger.
Professor David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield and lead author of the study, said: “Carbon dioxide drawdown strategies that can scale up and are compatible with existing land uses are urgently required to combat climate change, alongside deep and sustained emissions cuts.
“Spreading rock dust on agricultural land is a straightforward, practical CO2 drawdown approach with the potential to boost soil health and food production. Our analyzes reveal the big emitting nationsChina, the US, Indiahave the greatest potential to do this, emphasizing their need to step up to the challenge. Large-scale Research Development and Demonstration programs, similar to those being pioneered by our Leverhulme Centre, are needed to evaluate the efficacy of this technology in the field.”
Professor Steven Banwart, a partner in the study and Director of the Global Food and Environment Institute, said: “The practice of spreading crushed rock to improve soil pH is commonplace in many agricultural regions worldwide. The technology and infrastructure already exist to adapt these practices to utilize basalt rock dust. This offers a potentially rapid transition in agricultural practices to help capture CO2 at large scale.”
Professor James Hansen, a partner in the study and Director of the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, said: “We have passed the safe level of greenhouse gases. Cutting fossil fuel emissions is crucial, but we must also extract atmospheric CO2 with safe, secure and scalable carbon dioxide removal strategies to bend the global CO2 curve and limit future climate change. The advantage of CO2 removal with crushed silicate rocks is that it could restore deteriorating top-soils, which underpin food security for billions of people, thereby incentivising deployment.”
Professor Nick Pidgeon, a partner in the study and Director of the Understanding Risk Group at Cardiff University, said: “Greenhouse gas removal may well become necessary as we approach 2050, but we should not forget that it also raises profound ethical questions regarding our relationship with the natural environment. Its development should therefore be accompanied by the widest possible public debate as to potential risks and benefits.”
More information:
FAQs on carbon drawdown with enhanced weathering developed by the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation are available here: lc3m.org/faqs/David J. Beerling et al. Potential for large-scale CO2 removal via enhanced rock weathering with croplands, Nature (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2448-9
Citation:
Applying rock dust to croplands could absorb up to 2 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere (2020, July 9)
retrieved 9 July 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-07-croplands-absorb-billion-tonnes-co2.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Click here to view the original article.

Science

No Grumpy Old Men in the Chimp World – The New York Times

Older male chimps follow a pattern that researchers also see in humans, preferring to have positive relationships with a few good friends.

Published

on

post featured image
ADVERTISEMENT

Of course, this can also happen in humans, but the data indicate that Aunt Ratchet and Uncle Vlad are exceptions.
The data analysis required for such studies is what happens after the field observation. Anyone who watches nature television shows can probably call to mind the image of Jane Goodall amid the Gombe chimps, or other similar, apparently idyllic portraits of field biologists.
Dr. Machanda said that people may think its just a matter of using an Excel spreadsheet. But she said that Excel…

Click here to view the original article.

Continue Reading

Science

Witch-repellent graffiti discovered in ruins of medieval UK church – Live Science

The marks are meant to keep bad spirits away, but they won’t stop a high-speed train route from moving into the area.

Published

on

post featured image
ADVERTISEMENT

Learning no lessons from horror films of yore, Britain has plans for a high-speed rail project that will lay tracks over the ruins of a medieval church. And, apparently, the project has run into some trouble with witches and dark spirits.
According to archaeologists working at Stoke Mandeville, a village that lies in the path of the proposed railway, an early excavation of the site’s 700-year-old church revealed stone beams etched with strange circular patterns known as “witch marks.”
These markings,…

Click here to view the original article.

Continue Reading

Science

Scientists Found A New Way To Break Down the Most Common Plastic – Gizmodo

The plastics industry produces over 88 million tons of polyethylene, the most common plastic in the world. Scientists have found a new way to upcycle it, according…

Published

on

post featured image
ADVERTISEMENT

The petrochemical industry produces more than 88 million tons of polyethylene, making it the most common plastic in the world. Scientists have found a new way to upcycle it, according to a study published in Science on Thursday. It could help deal with the growing plastic pollution crisis.
Polyethylene comes in several different forms and is used in everything from plastic bags and food packaging to electrical insulation and industrial piping. Since its so common and our recycling system is so broken,…

Click here to view the original article.

Continue Reading

Trending

You might also like ...

post featured image
These Two Bird-Sized Dinosaurs Evolved Bat-Like Wings, but Struggled to Fly – SciTechDaily
post featured image
NASA to announce ‘exciting new discovery’ about the moon on Monday – Space.com
post featured image
Watch OSIRIS-REx take a bite out of asteroid Bennu’s surface – Engadget