These days, as we search for ways to pull excess carbon out of the atmosphere in order to mitigate global warming, new attention has focused on “natural climate solutions,” or managing land for carbon sequestration by conserving and restoring ecosystems … Anthropogenic activities such as the burning of fossil fuels have released carbon from its long-term geologic storage as coal, petroleum, and natural gas and have delivered it to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas. Carbon sequestration, the long-term storage of carbon in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean. Discover how the collaboration between the diverse fields of accounting and botany is leading to a better understanding of carbon sequestration by trees. What if the carbon dioxide leaks and escapes in large amounts into the atmosphere, despite all of our good intentions that it would stay where we put it? It is the process that nature uses to keep carbon dioxide in balance in the Earth’s atmosphere in a way that optimally supports life. For instance, many of the world’s forests, which are one of the Earth’s primary carbon sinks, have now been deforested or are currently being deforested at a very fast rate. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The amount of carbon stored in the oceanic sink exceeds the amount in the atmosphere (about 760 gigatons). Our goal is to inspire people to change their attitudes and behaviors toward a more sustainable life. Natural sources of carbon dioxide include the respiration of animals and plants (at night), the burning of forests during forest fires, and volcanic eruptions. For example, deforestation is a source of carbon emission into the atmosphere, but forest regrowth is a form of carbon sequestration, with the forests themselves serving as carbon sinks. We found that, on average, NF consumed 6.8% (37.5 mm per growing season) less water but sequestered 1.1% (12.5 g C m −2 growing season −1 ) more carbon than PF in the period of 2000–2012. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Leakage of carbon from reservoirs is also a concern, but it is estimated that properly managed geological storage is very likely (that is, 66–90 percent probability) to retain 99 percent of its sequestered carbon dioxide for over 1,000 years. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Read more about us. Premium Membership is now 50% off! For example, combustion (which is caused by fires) or decomposition (which results from microbe activity) can cause the release of carbon stored in forests to the atmosphere. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), improved agricultural practices and forest-related mitigation activities can make a significant contribution to the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at relatively low cost. Black Friday Sale! It is the process that nature uses to keep carbon dioxide in balance in the Earth’s atmosphere in a way that optimally supports life. And, with such artificial methods, we essentially ignore the need to work with the natural limits of our planet, which can have many other consequences, such as a lack of clean water and food for many around the world today. Of the carbon emitted to the atmosphere by human activities, only 45 percent remains in the atmosphere; about 30 percent is taken up by the oceans, and the remainder is incorporated into terrestrial ecosystems. One human idea to deal with the excessive carbon dioxide levels include capturing the carbon emissions at the point of where they are produced and then bury the carbon dioxide deep underground. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased since the beginning of the industrial age, and this increase has been caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels. In addition, the preservation of existing forests, especially the rainforests of the Amazon and elsewhere, is important for the continued sequestration of carbon in those key terrestrial sinks. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Animals expel carbon dioxide, as do plants during the night; forest fires belch carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, volcanic eruptions and magma reservoirs deep beneath the ground also play their part. Carbon sequestration is the process involved in carbon capture and the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO 2) and may refer specifically to: world’s forests, which are one of the Earth’s primary carbon sinks. Because all of the life on our planet is made of carbon, when plants and animals die, the carbon goes back into the ground and is recycled for future use by nature. Carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation, https://www.britannica.com/technology/carbon-sequestration, U.S. Department of Energy - Carbon Sequestration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).