Is Carbon Sequestration Feasible at the Scale of the Global Carbon Cycle? Eric Sundquist U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole Yale University Forum Carbon Sequestration: Is It Feasible? April 7, 2006 Time scales of carbon cycle change • Changes in atmospheric CO2 reflect natural carbon-cycle interactions that occur over a wide range of time scales. • Injection of anthropogenic CO2 into the atmosphere sets off natural responses that span the full range of time scales The Calculus of CO2 Projections • Short-term (years) and medium-term (decades) peak concentrations depend on rate of net emissions • Long-term (centuries) and very long-term (millennia) “stabilization” asymptote depends on cumulative net emissions Source: IPCC SRCCS, 2005, adapted from Kheshgi, 2003 Hedging by Wedging Source: Dooley et al., 2004, in IPCC SRCCS, 2005 Questions • Can carbon sequestration be implemented at rates sufficient to significantly reduce the projected CO2 peak in the coming decades to centuries? • Can carbon sequestration be implemented in cumulative quantities sufficient to significantly reduce the projected CO2 “stabilization” asymptote in the coming centuries to millennia? • How can we better engage the public in consideration of the feasibility of carbon sequestration and reduction of CO2 emissions by energy conservation and use non-fossil energy sources?
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