New Study Shows Promising Results for Storing Carbon in Dry Climates
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, and Cornell University have recently conducted a groundbreaking field study on the use of crushed volcanic rock to store carbon in dry climates. The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Communications, presents significant findings that could potentially help offset global warming.
The process, known as rock weathering, naturally captures carbon dioxide from the air when rain reacts with volcanic rock. However, this process typically takes millions of years to occur. To accelerate this process, researchers crushed the rock into a fine dust and found that it could be used to enhance rock weathering.
Previous studies estimate that this enhanced rock weathering technique could store a staggering 215 billion tons of carbon dioxide over the next 75 years if applied to croplands globally. However, until this recent study, the technology had not been field-tested in dry climates.
In the study, the researchers applied crushed rock to a fallowed cornfield in the Sacramento Valley in California, which was experiencing an extreme drought at the time. Despite the dry conditions, the study found that the plots with crushed rock stored 0.15 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare compared to those without crushed rock.
The implications of this finding are significant. If this level of carbon removal occurred across all California cropland, it would be equivalent to removing 350,000 cars from the road annually. The study also suggests that even infrequent heavy rains in dry regions could drive enhanced rock weathering and facilitate carbon dioxide removal.
However, the researchers emphasize the need for further investigation. They highlight the importance of measuring and verifying carbon storage at larger scales and over longer periods of time. This will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness and longevity of the technique.
Considering that drylands cover 41% of Earth’s land surface and are expanding due to climate change, studying enhanced rock weathering in these areas becomes increasingly important. With funding from the California Strategic Growth Council and the Grantham Foundation, the researchers were able to conduct this study. The crushed metabasalt rock used in the experiment was generously donated by SGI, a Standard Industries company.
Overall, this study showcases significant progress in the field of carbon storage. By exploring innovative techniques like rock weathering, scientists are continuously discovering new ways to combat global warming. As the world faces the urgent challenge of climate change, it is studies like these that provide hope for a sustainable future.
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