What are Carbon Sinks?
About half of the carbon dioxide that humans release into the atmosphere is removed by nature in what we call as Sink (Carbon Sink). In my previous articles, I discussed in detail about enhanced greenhouse effect and the chemistry of greenhouse gases that we release into atmosphere through various processes. In this article we will discuss how nature remove that extra carbon dioxide from the atmosphere?
It is a well known fact that the presence of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere raises the average temperature of earth’s surface. So is also true that the more is the quantity of carbon dioxide is present in the atmosphere, more will be the temperature rise. So removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is vary essential to lower the impact of enhanced greenhouse effect.
Nature, by its own processes, removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by dissolving it in oceans by a process known as “Sequestration” which is a part of carbon sink.
Sequestration: Dissolving Carbon Dioxide into Oceans
Sequestration is a process of capturing and storing excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere e.g. in oceans. Oceans continuously absorbs excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and converts it to a mild acid known as carbonic acid. Carbon dioxide reacts with sea water and the chemical reaction converts it to carbonic acid which reduces the pH value of the water in which it is dissolved. Mentioned below is the equation of chemical reaction that takes place when carbon dioxide reacts with sea water:
CO2 + H2O → H2CO3
Sequestration is essential as it reduces the impacts of enhanced greenhouse effect by removing extra carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which is the prime greenhouse gas. Otherwise the temperatures would have been even higher than what we are experiencing today. So next time you visit a beach or sea shore, don’t forget the fact that these oceans are also helping human being from the devastating impacts of greenhouse effect.
Documentary – The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification:
Over thousands of years, oceans have absorbed the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and helped our mother earth to maintain its climate balance. So far what we discusses above appears to be very easy for us to assume that oceans will continue to absorb the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and we don’t need to worry about controlling our carbon emissions and changing our lifestyles. But we all must have heard of this saying – “Excess of everything is bad“.
So is applicable for the oceans to absorb the carbon dioxide from atmosphere. Our oceans are suffering from the threat of acidification due to this extensive and uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by the humans. This half an hour groundbreaking NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Counsil) documentary explores the startling phenomenon of ocean acidification, which may soon challenge marine life on a scale not seen for tens of millions of years.