Does the Ocean Offer Solutions to Climate Change?

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Surely there are lots of solutions to mitigate climate change impacts. Most studies are focused on land-based mitigation efforts.

“Ocean Solutions to Address Climate Change and Its Effects on Marine Ecosystems,” a research article published in Frontiers, looks into the ocean for solutions to climate change. Frontiers is an academic journal and research community site.

The ocean covers 71 per cent of the earth surface, integral to life, and influences climate and weather patterns. The ocean already absorbs 25 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions from the environment and will have the potential to absorb more.

According to the study, current global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emission in keeping with the Paris Agreement are not enough to maintain temperature rise within 2 degrees from the pre-industrial period and that more ambitious and rigorous climate mitigation measures are required.

The study looks at 13 ocean-based measures to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, ocean warming, acidification, and sea-level rise.

These are further assessed based on the following factors: its effectiveness and duration of effects, its technical readiness or feasibility, cost-effectiveness, the viability of its application on a global scale and local context, and potential to reduce impacts on the ecosystem.

According to the paper, when each of the 13 ocean-based measures is assessed against the above factors (effectiveness to reduce ocean warming, acidification, and sea-level rise) some measures perform better than others.

For example, on the effectiveness and duration of effects, 2 of the 13 ocean-based solutions – renewable energy and alkalinization have the highest potential to reduce ocean warming, acidification, and sea-level rise.

Renewable energy in the study refers to the use of offshore wind turbines to produce energy harvested from tidal energy, waves, and ocean currents. Alkalinization refers to the addition of an alkaline substance in the water to consume carbon dioxide and neutralize acidity.

In terms of technical feasibility, two ocean-based measure stands out: protection and restoring hydrology and vegetation. Hydrology refers to the ‘maintenance and restoration of marine hydrological conditions, primarily in coastal waters, including both the tidal and riverine delivery of water and sediments’, to reduce the impact of climate change

Vegetation in the study means the restoration and conservation of mangroves and seagrasses. To improve absorption of carbon from the atmosphere as well as prevent carbon emissions when it decays or degraded in the ocean.

The paper also notes that the global implementation of renewable energy, vegetation, protection of and elimination of overexploitation of marine life has increased significantly in the last 20 years. The study recommends that more mitigation efforts are needed to cope with climate change, with more research and tests needed for its feasibility and application, which can vary from a global and local perspective.

The paper presents interesting and exciting ocean-based mitigation efforts and worth reading if you are searching for more information on the subject.

More discussions on the ocean-based solutions and their assessments are presented in the paper. Read the full research article by clicking on the button below:

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