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FAQs about the LOC-NESS Project

Ocean alkalinity enhancement (OAE) leverages a natural process to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by adding an alkaline solution to the sea surface. The ocean’s pH (level of acidity/alkalinity) governs its ability to take up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In fact, the ocean has naturally absorbed as much as one-quarter to one-third of human emissions since the dawn of the Industrial Age. The ocean’s capacity to take up heat and carbon from the atmosphere helps regulate the climate system and has prevented much greater temperature increases over the past century. But this has also caused the ocean to gradually acidify, potentially causing severe impacts to species and ecosystems worldwide.  

While emission reductions are key to minimizing human impact on Earth’s climate, it has become clear in recent years that drastic emission reductions must be supplemented by efforts to actively remove existing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in order to meet internationally accepted targets outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement and reaffirmed at the conclusion of the COP28 UN climate conference in Dubai.  

Adam Subhas, an associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), is the principal investigator leading the LOC-NESS project—short for Locking away Ocean Carbon in the Northeast Shelf and Slope—that aims to investigate OAE’s potential to help mitigate the effects of human-caused climate change by accelerating the ocean’s ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere without exacerbating ocean acidification.