Thanks To Global Warming, Plants Can’t Do Their Job As Well
The latest news on global warming trends.
This awareness is timely as the U.K.’s Met Office, a national weather service, just predicted that in 2019 atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will increase more than they have in the past 62 years.
“With emissions already at a record high, the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be larger than last year due to a slower removal by natural carbon sinks,” the Met Office said in a release.
Let’s break that statement down: While increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are attributed to fossil fuel emissions and land clearing (AKA, human activities), they are tapered thanks to the help of plants. Yep, plants and forests act as natural carbon sinks and absorb excess CO2 that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. This also means that when plants aren’t functioning at their full capacity, we feel the impact of global warming even more.
This year, due to the rise in temperatures in our oceans, we can expect a hotter and drier climate, which will make it difficult for plants to grow and do their jobs. “Each year’s CO2 is higher than the last, and this will keep happening until humans stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere,” Richard Betts of the Met Office explained in the release.
OK—so what can I do about it?
While it’s overwhelming hearing about the vicious cycle of global warming, there’s a lot we can do to help. You can start with small lifestyle changes such as carpooling, choosing reusable items instead of single-use plastics, and joining community efforts to shift environmental policy.
While the trend in CO2 emissions is looking daunting, as Betts pointed out—reducing CO2 emissions is the answer, and we could be part of the solution.
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Faster carbon dioxide rise expected this year, says study
The forecast by researchers from the UK Met Office and University of Exeter is based on a combination of factors including rising anthropogenic emissions and a relative reduction in the uptake of carbon-dioxide by ecosystems due to tropical climate variability.
The Earth this year may witness one of the largest increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide in over six decades of record keeping, scientists say. The forecast by researchers from the UK Met Office and University of Exeter is based on a combination of factors including rising anthropogenic emissions and a relative reduction in the uptake of carbon-dioxide by ecosystems due to tropical climate variability. “Since 1958, monitoring at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii has registered around a 30 per cent increase in the concentration of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere,” said Richard Betts, a professor at University of Exeter.
In the first decade of measurements, the rise of atmospheric CO2 was less than 0.9 ppm per year. The rise has since become generally faster over time as human emissions have increased, but with fluctuations related to climate swings such as El Nino. The average CO2 concentration in 2019 is forecast to be 411.3 ppm, with monthly averages reaching a peak of 414.7 ppm in May, temporarily dropping back to 408.1 ppm in September before rising again at the end of the year.
New Carbon capture system transforms CO2 into hydrogen fuel
January 28, 2019
Researchers from UNIST and Georgia Tech have developed a unique Hybrid Na-CO2 System.
A new carbon capture device developed by researchers at Ulsan National Institute for Science and Technology (UNIST) and Georgia Tech, captures carbon dioxide (CO2) and generates renewable electricity and useable hydrogen fuel from it. The team of researchers call the device a Hybrid Na-CO2 System.
The new device is essentially a large liquid battery.
The way the new carbon capture device works is a sodium metal anode is placed in an organic electrolyte and the cathode is contained in an aqueous solution. These two liquids are separated by a sodium (Na) Super Ionic Conductor (NASICON) membrane.
When carbon dioxide is added to the aqueous electrolyte, the liquid reacts with the cathode, increasing the acidity of the solution, which in turn produces electricity and generates hydrogen.
During testing, the research team discovered a CO2 conversion efficiency of 50%. They also found that the system had enough stability to run for more than 1,000 hours without damaging the electrodes.
Compared to other designs similar to the device, the Hybrid Na-CO2 System does not release any carbon dioxide as gas during normal operation. On the contrary, the remaining half of the CO2 was recovered from the electrolyte as baking soda.
It is unknown if these types of carbon capture systems can ever become viable large-scale technologies.
The researchers’ Hybrid Na-CO2 System is not the only carbon capture system that has been invented. While these systems do show a lot of promise for removing CO2 from the environment, whether or not these technologies will ever be useful at a large-scale is still unknown.
“Carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) technologies have recently received a great deal of attention for providing a pathway in dealing with global climate change,” says Professor Guntae Kim, lead researcher on the study, which was published in the journal iScience.
“The key to that technology is the easy conversion of chemically stable CO2 molecules to other materials. Our new system has solved this problem with CO2 dissolution mechanism,” Kim added, reported New Atlas.
The team of researchers believe that there is still room for improvement with each component of their new carbon capture design. Moreover, what could make their system stand out from others is its ability to produce renewable energy and hydrogen fuel.