Wednesday April 25, 2018

Unique Indian geological feature to mitigate climate change

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Bengaluru: An exceptional geological feature will help India by providing a natural solution to the problem of climate change,  some geologists said.

Scientists have known for years that carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels has been warming the planet. The just-concluded meeting in Paris urged nations to cut their CO2 emissions to ensure that the global temperature does not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level while aiming for a 1.5-degree limit.

But some experts, like law professor Dan Farber of the University of California-Berkeley, doubt whether even the 2-degree goal can be achieved purely through emission cuts, suggesting other avenues must be explored.

India has indeed an additional option, some geologists believe. This consists of capturing the CO2 coming out of coal-fired power plants and injecting it below the Deccan Traps for permanent storage.

Deccan Traps – a thick pile of solidified lava from volcanic eruptions 65 million years ago – occupies about a third of peninsular India and is the world’s largest continental flood-basalt province outside Siberia. The trap cover varies in thickness from a few hundred to a few thousand metres and, below this, lie thick sedimentary rocks. The idea is to pump the CO2 through the porous sedimentary rocks and use the basalt layer above as a “cap” to stop the gas escaping.

“The Deccan volcanic province in India is promising and provides enough material for CO2 sequestration,” Delhi University geologist JP Shrivastava, told this.

He says his laboratory studies have confirmed that CO2 reacts with calcium, magnesium and iron-rich silicates in the lava, turning them into stable carbonate minerals such as calcite, dolomite, magnesite and siderite. Ramakrishna Sonde, formerly executive director of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) had estimated that Deccan Traps might be able to hold 300,000 million tonnes of CO2 – as much as humans produce in 20 years.

Realizing the potential of Deccan Traps as a long-term CO2 storage option, Indian government agencies, jointly with American scientists, proposed in 2007 a field study to investigate the feasibility of this. The motivation for the project came from research at the Battelle Pacific North-West National Laboratory (PNNL) in Washington State. The US Pacific Northwest has basalt deposits similar to the Deccan Traps with an estimated holding capacity of more than 50,000 million tonnes of CO2.

The Indian study, proposed by NTPC, was to be carried out in partnership with Hyderabad’s National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) and PNNL. It was one of the 17 initiatives endorsed by the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF), a 23-member voluntary climate initiative of which India was a founding member. But, according to CSLF, the Indian study has remained “inactive”.

“Interest on the Indian side waned after it became clear in 2009 that no binding international emissions agreements were going to happen anytime soon,” Peter McGrail of PNNL told this correspondent in an e-mail. “I am not sure if the Paris agreement will change anything – too soon to tell,” he added. Officials at NTPC did not reply to a query on why the study failed to take off.

While the Indian study got stuck, McGrail said, “there has been some real progress” on small trials of CO2 injection into basalts in Iceland and another in Washington State. “We just finished closing our CO2 injection well here this August after 1,000 tonnes of CO2 was injected in 2013,” he said.

Shrivastava is disappointed that the government is giving “very little attention” to the vast Deccan basalt with huge potential for CO2 storage. “Our experiments suggest Deccan Traps stands better chances (of storing CO2) compared to the Columbia river continental basalt in the US and a basaltic glass of Iceland,” he said.

Not only the Deccan Traps but other basaltic rocks such as Rajmahal Traps, Sylhet Traps, Panjal Traps and many more have to be examined, he said, adding that India would benefit by reviving the stalled study in Deccan Traps.

Former NGRI director VP Dimri agreed.

“There is enough scope for further research in this direction,” Dimri told this correspondent.

“In addition, to Deccan Traps basalts, the underlying sediments and older volcanic (Gujarat and western Indian offshore) can also be studied for geological sequestration of CO2,” added Om Prakash Pandey, another NGRI scientist.

One possible way to revive the Deccan Traps study, said NGRI’s chief scientist G Parthasarathy, is to use the 1-km boreholes already drilled in Koyna for injecting CO2. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has, however, ruled this out. “The boreholes were drilled for investigating reservoir-triggered seismicity in the region,” MoES secretary MN Rajeevan said. “They are unsuitable for CO2 injection studies.”(IANS)

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World could see 140mn climate migrants by 2050: Report

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva said the new research provides a wake-up call to countries and development institutions

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climate change is happening at a quickened pace and thus leading to melting of huge ice bergs
climate change is happening at a quickened pace and thus leading to melting of huge ice bergs
  • Three regions can witness migration due to climate change
  • The regions also include South Asia
  • It is important to take measures to control climate change

Three densely populated regions of the world, including South Asia, could see internal climate migrants of over 140 million people in the next three decades if climate change impacts continue, a new World Bank Group report finds.

The report, “Groundswell — Preparing for Internal Climate Migration”, released on Monday, finds that unless urgent climate and development action is taken globally and nationally, the three regions — Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America — together could be dealing with tens of millions of internal climate migrants by 2050.

World can witness migration of many due to climate change. VOA
World can witness migration of many due to climate change. VOA

These people will be forced to move from increasingly non-viable areas of their countries due to growing problems like water scarcity, crop failure, sea-level rise and storm surges.

The “climate migrants” would be an addition to the millions of people already moving within their countries for economic, social, political or other reasons, the report warns. The exodus could create a looming humanitarian crisis and will threaten the development process.

Also Read: Climate change driving dramatic rise in sea levels: NASA

However, with concerted actions — including global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and robust development planning at the country level — this scenario could be dramatically reduced by up to 80 per cent or more than 100 million people.

The report is the first and most comprehensive study of its kind to focus on the nexus between slow-onset climate change impacts, internal migration patterns and, development in these three developing regions of the world.

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva said the new research provides a wake-up call to countries and development institutions. “We have a small window now, before the effects of climate change deepen, to prepare the ground for this new reality,” Georgieva said.

It is important to control climate change now.

“Steps cities take to cope with the upward trend of arrivals from rural areas and to improve opportunities for education, training and jobs will pay long-term dividends. It’s also important to help people make good decisions about whether to stay where they are or move to new locations where they are less vulnerable.”

The research team, led by World Bank Lead Environmental Specialist Kanta Kumari Rigaud, include researchers and modellers from CIESIN Columbia University, CUNY Institute of Demographic Research, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Also Read: Maharashtra’s climate action plan yielded disappointments

They applied a multi-dimensional modelling approach to estimate the potential scale of internal climate migration across the three regions. They looked at three potential climate change and development scenarios, comparing the most “pessimistic” (high greenhouse gas emissions and unequal development paths), to “climate-friendly” and “more inclusive development” scenarios in which climate and national development action increases in line with the challenge. Across each scenario, they applied demographic, socio-economic and climate impact data at a 14 sq.km grid-cell level to model likely shifts in population within countries.

This approach identified major “hotspots” of climate in- and out-migration – areas from which people are expected to move and urban, peri-urban and rural areas to which people will try to move to build new lives and livelihoods. “Without the right planning and support, people migrating from rural areas into cities could be facing new and even more dangerous risks,” the report added. IANS