The deep ocean has huge potential for carbon capture. Our partner Running Tide has tapped into some of this potential by using the natural carbon capture capacity of macroalgae to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sinking these kelp micro forests to the bottom of the ocean.
Running Tide’s negative emissions
The oceans are a natural carbon sink already storing 37,000 gigatons of carbon in deep waters. Plants close to the surface capture carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and this carbon gets transported and stored into the deep oceans from centuries to millions of years through these plants. Our partner Running Tide has utilized and accelerated this natural process for carbon removal.
Running Tide uses macroalgae - such as kelp micro forests - to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Kelp is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, it captures carbon dioxide faster than any other species. As such, it is one of the most effective carbon removal solutions. In practice, the macroalgae micro forests get distributed to the ocean in small biodegradable buoys. These microforests will float in the ocean and capture carbon through photosynthesis until they eventually grow too heavy and start sinking to the deep ocean. There, the macroalgae will be put under immense pressure and either consumed by the deep sea life or buried in sediment. This process limits the decomposition of the macroalgae back to CO₂ and removes carbon dioxide from the short cycle.
Life cycle analysis
The sequestration rates vary between different macroalgae, but 1 tonne of sugar kelp has the potential to sequester 1 tonne of carbon dioxide. The process is very fast as it only takes six to nine months for the macroalgae forests to start sinking after they are distributed to the ocean. The whole process takes less than a year in total and it has the capacity to store carbon dioxide from hundreds to up to millions of years.
The macroalgae forests of Running Tide provide a nature-based solution for carbon removal and as such, they cause minimal impact to the ocean environment. As oceans play a key role in this carbon removal method, there is only a minimal need for land use in comparison to other nature-based solutions such as reforestation. On top of that, as a nature-based solution, Running Tide provides a cheap way to store carbon. The only downside of this method is that it is still scaling up; however as the oceans make up most of Earth’s surface, this method has huge potential for rapid expansion.
Running Tide is one of many projects that we support - minimising the damage done to the environment and maximising the impact we can all have on climate change. It is important that everyone chooses to reduce their footprint and slow the emissions of dangerous greenhouse gases but combined with carbon removal projects such as this one, it is possible for us to fight and undo the climate crisis.
If you’re interested in supporting carbon removal projects like deep sea storage, please start a subscription today and sink your emissions to the bottom of the ocean.