Apr 27, 2023
Imagine the world’s oceans as a giant vacuum cleaner. It can suck carbon dioxide from the air and store it so the Earth doesn’t get as hot. That vacuum is now full, scientists say. It can’t absorb any more greenhouse gasses.
Engineers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have a solution. They have a way to clean the stored carbon so the ocean can hold more. This is important in slowing down climate change .
“The oceans have absorbed heat equivalent to seven Hiroshima atomic bombs detonating each second, twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty five days a year,” wrote John Abraham, a thermal scientist, in The Guardian.
Ocean water has 150 times more carbon dioxide than air. UCLA's "SeaChange" tool sends electric charges into ocean water on ships. This makes a chemical change that turns the gas into solids.
One of these solids is calcium carbonate. This is something found in seashells. The shell-like pieces drop to the ocean bottom. There the water returns to the sea. Now, it can capture more carbon.
The problem? This method doesn't take out enough carbon dioxide to make a big difference. By 2025, the project hopes to remove thousands of metric tons of C02 each year. Scientists say they need to take out 10 billion metric tons a year by 2050 to really help.
Margaret Leinen, Scripps Institution of Oceanography director, told The Associated Press that it might work. However, she wonders how much CO2 it will actually get rid of in the long run.