Earth’s temperatures continue to rise thanks to man-made global warming which sees greenhouse gasses being pumped into the atmosphere. However, scientists now believe volcanic eruptions have helped stabilise the climate throughout Earth’s history – and humans can take lessons from volcanoes in the battle against global warming.
Scientists from the University of Southampton have been investigating ways of removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
Most volcanoes lie near to the ocean, so when they erupt they dump tons of ash into the sea which eventually sinks to the bottom.
This ash increases the carbon storage capacity of the ocean, drawing out CO2 from the atmosphere and keeping it at the bottom of the sea.
As a result, experts from the University of Southampton believe a substance similar to volcanic ash could be dispersed by boat to an area of the ocean, helping to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
Volcano news: Volcanic eruptions could help in fight against climate change
Jack Longman, lead-author and former Post-Doctoral Research Assistant at the University of Southampton, said: “One of the ways oceans lock away CO2 is by storing it in sediments on the seafloor as calcium carbonate and organic carbon.
“In our work, we discuss how this natural process may be augmented by artificially adding ash to oceans.”
According to the team’s calculations, the process would be much cheaper than other greenhouse gas removal (GGR) methods.
A statement said: “The results suggest that this method could sequester as much as 2,300 tons of CO2 per 50,000 tons of ash delivered for a cost of $ 50 per ton of CO2 sequestered – much cheaper than most other GGR methods.
“In addition, the approach is simply an augmentation of a naturally occurring process, it does not involve expensive technology and it does not require repurposing valuable agricultural land.”
Study co-author and University of Southampton Professor of Geochemistry, Martin Palmer, added: “As a result of overwhelming evidence, politicians have begun to take steps towards incorporating emissions reductions into policies, such as in the 2015 Paris Agreement with its long-term goal of ensuring that global average temperatures do not exceed 2C above pre-industrial levels.
“However, it is becoming clear that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, active greenhouse gas removal (GGR) will be required.”
However, the team does state more research will need to be carried out on the subject.