Eco-engineering approaches for ocean negative carbon emission


The goal of achieving carbon neutrality in the next 30–40 years is approaching worldwide consensus and requires coordinated efforts to combat the increasing threat of climate change. Two main sets of actions have been proposed to address this grand goal. One is to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, and the other is to increase carbon sinks or negative emissions, i.e., removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Here we advocate eco-engineering approaches for ocean negative carbon emission (ONCE), aiming to enhance carbon sinks in the marine environment. An international program is being established to promote coordinated efforts in developing ONCE-relevant strategies and methodologies, taking into consideration ecological/biogeochemical processes and mechanisms related to different forms of carbon (inorganic/organic, biotic/abiotic, particulate/dissolved) for sequestration. We focus on marine ecosystem-based approaches and pay special attention to mechanisms that require transformative research, including those elucidating interactions between the biological pump (BP), the microbial carbon pump (MCP), and microbially induced carbonate precipitation (MICP). Eutrophic estuaries, hypoxic and anoxic waters, coral reef ecosystems, as well as aquaculture areas are particularly considered in the context of efforts to increase their capacity as carbon sinks. ONCE approaches are thus expected to be beneficial for both carbon sequestration and alleviation of environmental stresses.
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