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The University of Southampton
Clean Carbon

Southampton part of £10 million Leverhulme Trust Research Centre Award

Published: 28 June 2016
The site in Illinois where the experiments will take place

The Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation (LC3M), Led by Director, Professor David Beerling FRS, at the University of Sheffield, which launched on 1 June 2016, is a long-term programme of research which will investigate the role of enhanced rock weathering as a means of safely removing large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere to cool the planet while also mitigating ocean acidification.

The process of enhanced weathering, accelerates rates of atmospheric CO2 removal and nutrient release for plant growth (leading ultimately to CO2 being sequestered in carbonates on the seafloor), by exploiting natural reactions in soils which have been stabilising Earth’s climate for millions of years.

The research will be organised across four linked themes (earth systems modelling, fundamental science, applied science and sustainability and society), designed to understand enhanced weathering as a ‘low tech’ strategic option for revolutionising climate change mitigation by adapting agricultural practices for delivering resource-efficient global environment and food security.

Clean Carbon member Dr Andrew Yool will be working with colleagues from partner organisations (Professor S. Banwart, Professor S. Quegan and Professor A. Ridgwell) in Theme 1: Earth systems modelling: to address high-level questions concerning rates and the capacity of rock weathering driven by agroecosystems, forestry and grasslands to impact future CO2-climate trajectories and ocean chemistry and marine ecosystems.

Clean Carbon members, Professor Rachael James and Dr Chris Pearce will work with partner Professor Jonathan Leake, in Theme 2: Fundamental science: to elucidates key biological and physical mechanisms and drivers of rock grain weathering rates by major crop functional groups and root-associated microbiomes under current and future elevated atmospheric CO2 by utilising world-class controlled environment facilities. They will also be working with partner colleagues (Dr G. Reynolds, Professors R. Freckleton & J. D. Scholes, Dr D. Edwards) on part of Theme 3: Applied science, to investigate rates of rock weathering under natural conditions and soil-plant feedbacks on crop productivity and greenhouse gas emissions through field trials with oil palm agroecosystems in Malaysian Borneo.



plots sizes
In the image at top left - plot sizes are 4 x 3.8 ha and 16 x 0.7 ha

The programme aims to deliver transformative understanding of the fundamental science of enhanced weathering and its enormous potential and co-benefits for climate change mitigation and sustainable agriculture. In doing so, we are bridging the cultural split of geoengineering vs. agroecosystems as opposing “solutions” to climate change.

Earlier this year, Centre Director Professor Beerling and colleagues highlighted the concept which this work will be exploring in an article: Enhanced weathering strategies for stabilizing climate and averting ocean acidification, Taylor et. al. published April 2016 in NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE, VOL 6.

Read the article below.




Project partners

Harnessing world-class expertise with leading UK and international collaborators



The South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP)

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