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Vancouver Island home to new deepsea carbon dioxide removal project

A new ocean-based carbon dioxide removal technology is being put to the test off the coast of Vancouver Island, near Tofino.

Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) and Running Tide, an American ocean health company, have partnered on the year-long deepsea research project.

It’s designed to see whether technology can be used to enhance the ocean’s natural ability to pull carbon from the atmosphere, which scientists say is among the key solutions to addressing climate change.

“Decarbonizing is the highest priority, but no matter how fast we decarbonize we’re going to have to remove CO2 out of the atmosphere to keep the planet habitable for humans and biodiversity,” says ONC president and CEO Kate Moran.

“Because the ocean is such a big part of the planet, it would be negligent of us for not looking at it in terms of research.”

ONC has designed an observation platform to help gather data – and it was successfully installed 1,300 metres below the ocean’s surface in the Clayoquot Slope.

The platform is equipped with Running Tide’s carbon buoys made of wood, mycelium and locally sourced sugar kelp.

“We have two primary mechanisms: One is through growing macro algae in the open ocean and then having it sunk to the sea floor. The other is having wood or other terrestrial-based biomass that is grown on land and then sinking that to the sea floor,” says Running Tide scientist Alison Tune. “So we want to sink it in a way that it will be durable over centuries to millennia.”

The researchers will spend the next 12 months looking at what happens to carbon-capturing biomass once it’s sunk to the ocean floor – with some key questions in mind around safety, environmental impacts, and durability. If the model is successful, scientists see potential in scaling it up.

“I think people should care because the current climate crisis is an important one,” says ONC senior scientist Kohen Bauer. “We need to advance our understanding of these processes and ultimately this is going to limit warming or future warming for future generations.” Top Stories

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