University of Bremen: Research mission examines oceans as carbon stores

As a result of human activities, ever larger amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. It heats up, and as a result the climate on earth changes. The world ocean makes a significant contribution to storing CO 2 from the atmosphere and thus mitigating the effects of the climate crisis. However, researchers assume that the share of oceanic CO 2 storage will decrease. More CO 2 is already being produced than can be absorbed naturally.

The German Marine Research Alliance has therefore set itself the goal of developing new processes and methods for this with the research mission “Marine carbon storage as a path to decarbonization”. In an interdisciplinary manner and in close cooperation with companies, the aim is to investigate how and to what extent the ocean can play a sustainable role in the extraction and storage of CO 2 from the atmosphere and thus contribute to keeping climate change within the limits set by the Paris Agreement . It is also explicitly about developing options for action that create added value for the German climate strategy.

In six associations, various methods of marine carbon dioxide extraction and storage are being investigated with regard to their potential, risks and possible side effects, and effects on the marine environment, the earth system and society are determined and brought together in a transdisciplinary evaluation framework.

The joint project AIMS³ is investigating the extent to which CO 2 can be permanently stored as carbonate in the basaltic upper ocean crust. The study includes several expeditions, which are accompanied by downstream laboratory experiments. Ultimately, it is planned to drill a flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and use innovative monitoring systems to monitor the environmental impact of CO 2 discharge into crustal rocks. AIMS³ is coordinated at the MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen.

The joint project sea4soCiety focuses on carbon storage in coastal ecosystems rich in vegetation. Taking into account further social benefits and potential risks, innovative approaches are developed with the help of expeditions, remote sensing data, stakeholder surveys and scenarios, which are intended to improve the natural potential of carbon storage through ecosystem design. This project is coordinated at the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT).

In the first phase of the research mission, which is just starting, the alliances are being formed in order to effectively begin the respective work at sea and between the partners. The first mission meeting is planned for the beginning of 2022, at which the research of the associations will be more closely networked and knowledge transfer to user groups and decision-makers will take place.

The following researchers from the University of Bremen are involved in the projects:

Prof. Dr. Achim Kopf (coordinator, MARUM)
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Bach (FB5 Geosciences, MARUM)
Prof. Dr. Ralf Bachmayer (MARUM, FB3 Mathematics / Computer Science)
Prof. Dr. Martin Eickhoff (FB1 Physics / Electrical Engineering)
Prof. Dr. Jutta Günther (Faculty 7 Economics)
Dr. Tim Freudenthal (MARUM)
Dr. Tobias Wendler (Faculty 7 Economics)
Dr. Matthias Zabel (MARUM)
The GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, Fraunhofer IPM Freiburg and Sea & Sun Technology are also involved.

Prof. Dr. Martin Zimmer, (Coordinator, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research – ZMT / FB 2 Biology / Chemistry)
Prof. Dr. Kai Bischof (FB2 Biology / Chemistry, MARUM)
Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Hehemann (MARUM, FB2 Biology / Chemistry)
sea4soCiety is led by Prof. Dr. Martin Zimmer (Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research, Bremen). The following institutes are also involved in the joint project: Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology Bremen, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research Sylt and Bremerhaven, GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, and the Universities of Hamburg, Hanover , Kiel and Oldenburg.

In the research mission “Marine carbon storage as a path to decarbonization” – CDRmare for short – of the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM), around 200 researchers are investigating in six joint projects how and to what extent the ocean and its coastal zones play a sustainable role in extraction and storage carbon dioxide from the atmosphere can play. The long-term goal is to develop a roadmap for the active use of marine carbon stocks, which should help limit the consequences of man-made climate change and achieve the Paris climate goals. CDRmare (CDR = Carbon Dioxide Removal) is coordinated across the board at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel and the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the research mission with 27 million euros over an initial phase of three years (1.8.2021 – 31.7.2024). Further information:

The German Marine Research Alliance, with its 22 member institutions, develops solution-oriented knowledge and options for action for a sustainable approach to the coasts, seas and oceans.

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