First large-scale ocean geoengineering experiment completed successfully

(ORDO NEWS) — A large-scale experiment on changing the state of the climate and the ocean, carried out in Apalachicola Bay (Florida), was crowned with success.

The liming of local sea water made it possible to reduce its acidity and remove a significant amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Climate change and related environmental issues such as ocean acidification remain a cause of considerable concern.

At the same time, the unprecedented rapid increase in the content of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, associated with the rapid activity of mankind, is of particular importance.

The scale of the problem continues to grow and requires decisive action. Among the possible options is the reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which should be provided by international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol and changes in the technologies used.

Another, more controversial method of dealing with global environmental problems is geoengineering , that is, the use of technologies that transform the geographic environment of the Earth on a large scale to influence the climate.

The first such attempts have already been made and have been successful. So, in May 2022, environmental scientists began “liming the ocean” – they poured about 2,000 liters of seawater saturated with lime into the Apalachicola estuary.

The shallow waters of the local bay at the base of the Florida peninsula are famous for their oyster farms. They supply about 10% of these shellfish, an important mariculture item, to the table of US consumers.

However, now not everything is so rosy there: recently, local farms have fallen into decline due to rising sea water temperatures and its acidificationassociated with excess carbon dioxide.

The situation turned out to be so acute that in 2020 the state authorities banned the collection of oysters for five years. Soon, the same officials spurred local environmental scientists to conduct an unusual experiment designed to reverse changes in ocean water.

Alkali powder, calcium hydroxide was used. It is a caustic substance that has a very high pH and will neutralize acids known to have extremely low pH values. Lime is obtained from natural calcium carbonate – chalk or limestone – and is used on an industrial scale, for example, for the production of cement.

Once in natural salt waters, lime significantly reduced their acidity. As a result, marine ecosystems began to absorb carbon dioxide much more efficiently and store it in the form of “climate-safe” calcium carbonate – that is, the shells of marine mollusks and the skeletons of other organisms.

The authors call this the acceleration of natural processes, which by their nature do not change.

“The fact that we got such a response in a real system is simply priceless,” said Wade McGillis, an engineer, climate specialist and one of the authors of the study.

It is worth noting that liming is just one of the ways to radically change the state of the ocean using geoengineering. This first successful experience may inspire humanity to try other similar technologies.


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