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Friday, July 11, 2014

Three Graphics from the IPCC that help Explain the Science Behind Greenhouse Gas Removal

By Noah Deich

In 2013, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a comprehensive report outlining many approaches to Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) (section 6.5 starting on page 546). The report is quite technical, but has a number of interesting charts that help explain CDR:

1. A diagram showing the global carbon cycle, helping to show where carbon goes when it gets emitted into the atmosphere.

The finding that a significant portion of CO2 can take thousands of years leave the atmosphere makes the case for developing CDR solutions all the more imperative.

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Credit: IPCC, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Bases, p. 471 [Link]
Note: the diagram shows carbon fluxes, not CO2 fluxes. To convert to the more commonly-cited CO2 figure, multiple the these numbers by 3.67 (which represents the weight of a CO2 molecule compared to a molecule of pure C).

2.  A table outlining many of the various CDR approaches, which vary quite widely in their methods.

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Credit: IPCC, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Bases, p. 547 [Link]

3. A table showing the potential for different CDR approaches.

PgC, or petagrams carbon are equal to 1 gigatonne (1 billon metric tonnes) of carbon. Annual emissions are on the order of 10 PgC per year, meaning that it is technically possible to remove A LOT of carbon from the atmosphere with currently identified techniques.

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Credit: IPCC, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Bases, p. 549 [Link]

This VEC guest blog complies with our guest blogging rules, and first appeared on Noah Deich’s blog: Everything and the Carbon Sink on 24 July 2014

 

Carbon stocks and flows diagram and tables: source: IPCC, 2013: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1535 pp [Link]