TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography

Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 61 (No. 4), pp. 747-760, 2005

Model Simulations of Carbon Sequestration in the Northwest Pacific by Direct Injection

Katsumi Matsumoto1* and Bryan K. Mignone2

1Biogeochemical Cycles Research Group, Geological Survey of Japan, AIST, Tsukuba 305-8567, Japan;also at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, U.S.A.
2Department of Geosciences and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, U.S.A.

(Received 21 June 2004; in revised form 28 September 2004; accepted 29 November 2004)

Abstract: The direct disposal of CO2 into the ocean interior represents a possible means to help mitigate rising levels of atmospheric CO2. Here, we use three different versions of an ocean general circulation model (OGCM) to simulate the direct injection of liquid CO2 near Tokyo. Our results confirm that direct injection can sequester large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere when disposal is made at sufficient depth (80-100% of the carbon injected at 3000 m remains in the ocean after 500 years) but show that the calculated efficiency is rather sensitive to the choice of physical model. Moreover, we show, for the first time in an OGCM and under a reasonable set of economic assumptions, that sequestration effectiveness is quite high for even shallow injections. However, the severe acidification that accompanies injection and the impossibility of effectively monitoring injected plumes argue against the large-scale viability of this technology. Our coarse-grid models show that injection at the rate of 0.1 Pg-C/yr lowers pH near the site of injection by as much as 0.7-1.0 pH-unit. Such pH anomalies would be much larger in more finely gridded models (and in reality) and have potential to severely harm deep-sea organisms. We also show that, after several hundred years, one would effectively need to survey the entire ocean in order to accurately verify the inventory of injected carbon. These results suggest that while retention may be sufficient to justify disposal costs, other practical problems will limit or at best delay widespread deployment of this technology.

*Corresponding author E-mail: katsumi@ni.aist.go.jp

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