Economical Reef Systems (ERS) by Johnnie Buttram
Dec 2, 2012
The idea of local pH modification to preserve reefs appears to be worthy of further modelling and investigation. However, the idea as submitted does not appear to relate to methane in any direct way. Additionally, the engineering detail of the proposal appears to be crude, with substantial detritus added to the ocean for no clearly explicable reason, when the alkalisation could potentially be carried out directly from vessels, without intermediate storage containers.
May 3, 2013
Were the ocean not taking up an amount of CO2 each year equivalent to about a quarter of each year's global emissions of CO2, and because of this becoming more acidic, creating artificial reefs might be a very productive way to store carbon. Unfortunately, the uptake of CO2 by the ocean makes the ocean more acidic (that is, it lowers the pH). Because, just as soda does, colder waters hold more dissolved CO2, this problem of ocean acidification is occurring first in the northern polar waters. This is all disconcerting because fisheries are also moving poleward seeking cooler waters, but are instead finding that the colder temperatures they need are being accompanied by more acidic (i.e., less basic, since pH is going from 8.2 toward 8.0) waters that are expected to make it more difficult for fish to form their skeletons. In addition what ocean acidification is doing is causing the compensation depth (the layer below which calcium carbonate deposits tend to dissolve) is rising toward the surface. As this happens, not only will it be harder for species to form skeletons, etc., but there will be a tendency to limit the atmospheric uptake of CO2, making the atmospheric concentration even higher. A slightly different suggestion here might make some real sense. What if one put the barrels into a near-coastal bay where water chemistry could be adjusted to be optimally suitable for carbonate formation, and then once the barrels were encrusted with carbonate, they were lifted out and used essentially as coastal barriers to alleviate the effects of storm surges. While the lowered pH of rain would corrode them, this would be a slow process and could be prevented with the right type of plastic or other covering, Similarly, storm surges are rare and so potential corrosion would be small and not compromise the barrier. A key question would be how long it would take to encrust the carbonate--the shorter the better, and it would be interesting to investigate to what extent this process could be enhanced. But, I would think trying to use the coral/carbonate on land might be preferable to doing this in the ocean.
May 5, 2013
Your comments and especially your suggestion concerning Economical Reef Systems (ERS) to also correlate reef location and water chemistry, has prompted me to do a re-write as time permits. I believe these containers or custom conduits could simultaneously become coastal protection and be filled with prescriptive nutrients to optimize fish proliferation. It would have been great if Co Lab could have included a forum that focused on how "Ocean Dynamics" could help neutralize the adverse effects of climate change! Thank you again for the great suggestion!
Jul 10, 2013
Thank you for sharing your ideas and for the work invested to create this proposal. Your proposal has been considered carefully by the judges. The proposal has several interesting ideas, some of which go quite beyond geoengineering and seek to address the very important challenge of restoring ocean ecological systems. We also appreciate the modifications to the proposal that have been made in response to feedback. However, it is not clear how large (if any) impact the scheme that is proposed will have on reducing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and without sufficient discussion of the effects on ocean biogeochemistry and the carbon cycle, it is difficult to assess this aspect of the proposal -- which seemingly is the main connection of the proposal with geoengineering.
Jul 10, 2013
Dear Geoengineering Judges, You turned down my Reef and fishstock submission today at 2:45 PM. A lead story on the 5:30 CBS news verified my theory is right on target! Thank you for your consideration, Johnnie Buttram