HOW KELP FARMS COULD BE OUR SAVING GRACE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
As dangerous levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide continue to rise, we must decrease the amount of CO2 being funneled into our atmosphere. This, of course, means drastically reducing the root sources of carbon such as a heavy reliance on fossil fuel energy. However, many experts argue that emissions reduction alone is not enough to mitigate disastrous impacts on our ecosystems. Carbon dioxide must be actively removed from the atmosphere which has created an urgent need for nature-based carbon sink solutions. One option proven to be quite fast, efficient, and cost-effective is kelp farming-- an apparatus for carbon sequestration currently on the rise.
Kelp, the largest subgroup of seaweed, uses photosynthesis to convert CO2 into biomass. Once converted, this biomass can then either sink to the ocean floor and be stored underground, burying the CO2 with it, or it can be harvested and processed into biofuel for carbon-neutral energy use. An extraordinary process in itself, this system can occur very quickly as the kelp grows up to two feet per day, rapidly devouring carbon dioxide along the way.
Beyond their exceptional growth rates, kelp forests are superior to land-based carbon sinks for several reasons. First, they do not require freshwater or fertilizer resources like tree-planting projects. They also do not require land to grow, which eliminates competition for spaces that could potentially be used for agricultural purposes. Kelp forests are fireproof, which cannot be said about forests on land — in fact, the devastating recent wildfires in places like the Amazon rainforest, Australia, and California are just a few examples of the alarming need to pursue fireproof carbon sink options.
Additionally, the potential for growing kelp is enormous; a 2019 study found that 18.5 million square miles of the ocean are suitable for seaweed cultivation. Regardless of whether kelp is harvested for biofuel or buried at sea, its ability to contribute to carbon sequestration efforts is astounding. For these reasons, many are pushing for the mass utilization of this natural tool to strengthen climate change mitigation initiatives.
Albo Climate is working on a unique tool for measuring the success of carbon sequestration efforts such as kelp farming. By applying AI to satellite imagery, our technology can quantify and monitor the amount of carbon being removed from the atmosphere as a result of different nature-based projects. Our AI makes it possible for corporations to accurately and efficiently offset their emissions by investing in climate solutions such as kelp farms.
Written by River Hayes, Research and Communications Intern at Albo Climate.